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John D. Rockefeller III
American philanthropist

John D. Rockefeller III

John D. Rockefeller III
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American philanthropist
A.K.A. John Davison Rockefeller III
Was Businessperson Entrepreneur
From United States of America
Field Business
Gender male
Birth 21 March 1906, New York City, USA
Death 10 July 1978, Pocantico Hills, USA (aged 72 years)
Star sign Aries
Mother: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Father: John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Siblings: Abby Rockefeller MauzéNelson RockefellerDavid RockefellerWinthrop RockefellerLaurance Rockefeller
Spouse: Blanchette Ferry Rockefeller
Children: Jay RockefellerAlida Rockefeller MessingerHope Rockefeller AldrichSandra Ferry Rockefeller
Princeton University
The details (from wikipedia)


John Davison Rockefeller III (March 21, 1906 – July 10, 1978) was a philanthropist and third-generation member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the eldest son of the philanthropists John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. His siblings were Abby, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop and David.

Like his sister Abby, John III eventually settled on philanthropy as his major interest. His brothers Nelson and Winthrop devoted themselves to politics while Laurance went into conservation and David went into banking. He was a major force behind the establishment of the Council on Foundations, the Foundation Center and Independent Sector. He took a leading role in organizing the Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy (better known as the Peterson Commission) and the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (better known as the Filer Commission). He also made the initial donation to support Yale University's Program on Non-Profit Organizations, the first academic research center to focus on nonprofits.

In addition to his interest in philanthropy, Rockefeller made major commitments to supporting organizations related to East Asian affairs, including the Institute of Pacific Relations, the Asia Society, and the Japan Society. He was also a major supporter of the Population Council.

Early life

On March 21, 1906, Rockefeller was born as John Davison Rockefeller III in New York City, New York. Rockefeller's parents were John Davison Rockefeller Jr. (1874–1960) and Abigail Greene "Abby" Aldrich (1874–1948), philanthropists. He had four younger brothers, Nelson, Winthrop, Laurance and David, and an elder sister, Abby. Through his father, he was a grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John Davison Rockefeller Sr. and schoolteacher Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman. Through his mother, he was a grandson of Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich and Abigail Pearce Truman "Abby" Chapman. He received his preparatory education at the Browning School in New York City and the Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut, in 1925. He went to Princeton University where he received high honors in economics and graduated in 1929 with the degree of Bachelor of Science, choosing industrial relations as the subject of his senior thesis. His interest in industrial relations stemmed from the family's role in the Ludlow Massacre, in which strikebreakers and security guards killed women and children of miners striking against the Rockefeller-controlled Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Rockefeller's father worked to restore the family's public reputation by championing industrial relations and the work of William Lyon Mackenzie King, a pioneer in the field.

Commencing a lifelong commitment to international relations, he undertook a world tour after graduating from college, which concluded with assignments for the Institute of Pacific Relations conference in Japan.

Institutional positions/activities

John III was the next Rockefeller manager for all family undertakings of social relevance. Since 1929, in total he sat on twenty boards of various institutions, most of which were family-related. The more notable of these were:

  • Rockefeller University - then the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (established by Senior);
  • Colonial Williamsburg (John Jr., Abby);
  • Riverside Church (John Jr.);
  • International House of New York (John Jr.);
  • General Education Board - later the International Education Board (Senior);
  • China Medical Board (John Sr., John Jr.);
  • Bureau of Social Hygiene (John Jr.);
  • Industrial Relations Counselors (John Jr.).

John III was at one time a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Foreign Policy Association and the Institute of Pacific Relations, as well as being on the board of directors of Princeton University. In late 1950, he accompanied secretary of state John Foster Dulles and Douglas MacArthur on a trip to Japan to conclude a peace treaty, during which time he consulted with many Japanese leaders in practically every important sphere of that country's life.

He was a prominent third-generation family philanthropist in his own right and founder of the Asia Society, the major institution he established in 1956 to foster greater cooperation between Asia and the United States. He also founded the Population Council in 1952, and a reconstituted Japan Society. In addition, he set up the United Negro College Fund for the ongoing education of African Americans, carrying on the family tradition in this area with his grandfather's funding of the education of black women at Spelman College in Atlanta.

He was on his father's Advisory Committee in the family office, Room 5600. He was also president of the family's principal philanthropy run by family members, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, from its inception in 1940 to 1956. In 1929, he joined the family's renowned Rockefeller Foundation; elected to the board in 1931 he subsequently became chairman of this major philanthropic organization for twenty years and was responsible for changing the focus of the institution.

The principal philanthropic institution he created was the JDR III Fund in 1963, its major program being the Asian Cultural Program, created in 1967 to encourage East-West cultural exchange. The Fund was wound-up upon his death in 1979, but the Cultural Program continued as the Asian Cultural Council, which has provided grant assistance to more than 4,000 Asians and Americans in the area of the arts. Funding for its programs is derived from a combination of endowment income and contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations in the United States and Asia.

In the mid-1950s, John III assumed the leadership of the Exploratory Committee for a Musical Arts Center, a committee of civic leaders who were working to create what would become Lincoln Center. He was the key figure in the fund-raising efforts and in forging a consensus among the civic leaders and others who were essential to its success. The Center itself was built over a period from 1959 to 1969. He was its first president, commencing in 1956, and he became its chairman in 1961. He was chairman until 1970 when he was duly elected honorary chairman.

In the late 1960s, Rockefeller III was responsible for the creation of the Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy (usually known as the Peterson Commission, headed by Peter G. Peterson) and the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (usually known as the Filer Commission). He established the Rockefeller Public Service Awards in 1958. In 1959, he received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York". In 1976, he received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. Rockefeller College at Princeton University was named in his honor in 1982.


On November 11, 1932, he married the socially connected Blanchette Ferry Hooker (1909–1992), who was to serve as chairman of the Asian Cultural Council from 1980 to 1990, and who established the Blanchette H. Rockefeller Fellowship Fund, in Japan. They had one son and three daughters:


John Davison Rockefeller III was killed in an automobile accident in Mount Pleasant, New York, (near the Rockefeller family estate in Pocantico), on July 10, 1978, at the age of 72. He was buried at the Rockefeller Family Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 18 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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