Billionaire banking boss David Rockefeller dies aged 101

Posted March 20, 2017

Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller Sr. died Monday in his sleep at his Pocantico Hills home, according to his spokesman.

He was a retired global banker and the last surviving grandchild of John D. Rockefeller, the Standard Oil founder.

During the 1970s Rockefeller was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank and helped settle New York City's financial crisis in the middle of the decade.

In May 2015, he made a rare public appearance in ME to mark his approaching 100th birthday by donating 1,000 acres (405 hectares) for preservation on exclusive Mount Desert Island.

Many members of his family were drawn more to politics than to business. Rockefeller eventually became company president, and served as a Chairman until his retirement in 1986. But he was also well known for his charitable work.

In his role of business statesman, Rockefeller preached capitalism at home and favored assisting economies overseas on grounds that bringing prosperity to the Third World would create customers for American products.

As one of the Rockefeller grandchildren, David belonged to the last generation in which the inherited family billions were concentrated in a few hands. At the time of his death, David was personally worth $2.9 billion.

He also was viewed with anger on the right for pushing to open trade with China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

From 1940 to 1941 he was secretary to New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and in 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in military intelligence in North Africa and France.

He donated nearly $2 billion to a wide range of institutions, including The Rockefeller University, Harvard University, the Museum of Modern Art, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Council on Foreign Relations. His private art collection was once valued at $500 million. From Washington to New York City government to capitals around the world, his influence was far flung and included banking, education and the art world.

Rockefeller, also known as "the banker's banker", "one of the most influential figures in the history of American philanthropy and finance, is considered by many to be "America's last great worldwide business statesman", the statement said".

For his philanthropic efforts, David received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, in 1998.

Rockefeller and his wife, the former Margaret McGrath, married in 1940 and had six children - David Jr., Richard, Abby, Neva, Margaret and Eileen.