John D. Rockefeller, Jr was born on January 29, 1874, into a family that is the very definition of wealth.
His father, John Sr., founded the Standard Oil Company and was one of the wealthiest men alive.
Jr. was the last of John Sr.’s children, and his only son. Sr’s mother, a Baptist, taught him the art of charity. As a young man, when he was making 50 cents a day, he donated 6% of it to charity. As his wealth grew, the percentage grew.
He passed the art of giving onto his son, John Jr.
Jr. went on to father the famous five; John III, Nelson, Laurence, Winthrop, and David. David was a banker, statesman, and philanthropist, John III, a philanthropist and internationalist (one-worlder), Laurence became a venture capitalist and conservationist, and Winthrop and Nelson became governors, with Nelson ending UP as the VP when Jerry Ford became President.
There was a daughter as well, Abby, a homemaker, art patron and collector, and philanthropist.
That in and of itself is one heck of a legacy. But Junior felt he owed more to the world because of his good fortune.
He, like his father, was a brilliant businessman. But more than that he was a philanthropist.
A huge one.
Some of his many causes: The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, The League of Nations, The Council on Foreign Relations, Memorial Hospital – which became Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Bureau of Social Hygiene, funding for Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League, the property for the Museum Modern of Art, he donated the George Grey Barnard collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, VA, the land the United Nations is built on, hundreds of Protestant and Baptist institutions, and private colleges, public colleges nation wide.
His overseas donations are equally impressive. Versailles and Reims Cathedral are just two. He also built the Palestine Archaeological Museum and the Israel Museum.
He was a conservationist as well. He bought and donated land for national parks: The Grand Teton, Great Smokey Mountain, Shenandoah, Yosemite, and Humboldt Redwoods.
He restored Washington Irving’s home.
His life’s principle was:
“I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty”
It is estimated that over his life time John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave away more than $550 MILLION.
He died in 1960 at the age of 89, with nothing to be embarrassed about.