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  Rockefeller, Laurance Spelman
NameLaurance Spelman Rockefeller
, , United States
Born May 26, 1910
DiedJuly 11, 2004 (94 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedThomas Walker
Oct 27, 2006 04:28pm
InfoLaurance Spelman Rockefeller (May 26, 1910 – July 11, 2004) was a financier, philanthropist, major conservationist and member of the Rockefeller family. He was the fourth child of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and brother to John D. 3rd, Nelson, Winthrop and David.

Rockefeller was born in New York City and graduated from Princeton in 1932. He then attended Harvard Law School for two years until he came to the conclusion that he did not want to be a lawyer.

Laurance married Mary French in 1934. A friendship between Mary French's mother, Mary Montague French, and Laurance Rockefeller's mother allowed for a childhood friendship. When Nelson Rockefeller attended Dartmouth College, he shared a room with Mary's brother. Mary was granddaughter to Fredrick Billings, a president of Northern Pacific Railway. Laurance and Mary had three daughters and a son. They are Laura R. Chasin, Marion R. Weber, Dr. Lucy R. Waletzky, and Larry Rockefeller.

In 1937 he inherited his grandfather's seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He served as trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for forty-two years, from its inception in 1940 to 1982; during this time he also served as president and later its chairman for twenty-two years, longer than any other leader in the Fund's history.

He was noted for his involvement in conservation (Lady Bird Johnson in 1967 was to label him "America's leading conservationist") and the protection of wildlife and was chairman of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. He funded the expansion of Grand Teton National Park and promoted the creation and expansion of numerous other national parks. He funded the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at a critical juncture of its early development. He also funded William Irwin Thompson's Lindisfarne Association, a think tank and retreat.

He also had an interest in spiritual research, UFOs and crop circles. He funded the research of Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. John Edward Mack, author of Passport to the Cosmos. He also funded a scientific study about crop circles in the late 1990s ([1]) in which scientists concluded that we are dealing with an unknown energy source, as their research left them baffled.

Through his resort company, Rockresorts, Rockefeller opened hotels at Caneel Bay on Saint John, United States Virgin Islands, in Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, and Hawaii. The last of these, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, was established in 1965 on the Kohala Coast of the island of Hawaii.

He was a leading figure in the field of venture capital through his partnership Venrock Associates, which provided important early funding for Intel and Apple Computer. His major interest though was in aviation, funding the pivotal post WW11 military contractor McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

In 1992 Laurance and his wife Mary donated their Woodstock, Vermont summer home and farm to the National Park Service, eventually creating a museum dedicated to the history of conservation, now called the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. In 2001 Laurance transferred ownership of his landmark 1106 acre (4.5 km²) JY Ranch to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which was accepted by Vice-President Dick Cheney on behalf of the Federal Government (see External Links below).

He died in his sleep of pulmonary fibrosis on July 11, 2004.



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Father John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 1874-1960
Grandfather John D. Rockefeller 1839-1937
Brother John D. Rockefeller, III 1906-1978
Nephew Jay Rockefeller 1937-
Niece Alida Ferry Rockefeller Messenger 1948-
Brother Nelson A. Rockefeller 1908-1979
Brother Winthrop Rockefeller 1912-1973
Nephew Win Paul Rockefeller 1948-2006
Brother David Rockefeller 1915-2017
Mother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller 1874-1948
Grandfather Nelson W. Aldrich 1841-1915
Uncle Richard S. Aldrich 1884-1941
1st Cousin Richard S. Aldrich 1923-1997
Uncle Winthrop W. Aldrich 1885-1974