- NAME: Laurance Rockefeller
- OCCUPATION: Environmental Activist, Business Leader, Philanthropist
- BIRTH DATE: May 26, 1910
- DEATH DATE: c. July 11, 2004
- EDUCATION: Princeton University, Harvard Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Laurance Spelman Rockefeller
- AKA: Laurance Rockefeller
- AKA: Laurance S. Rockefeller
Best Known For
Venture capitalist and environmentalist Laurance Rockefeller founded the American Conservation Association and put conservationism on the American agenda.
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Laurance Rockefeller was born on May 26, 1910, in New York City. Following his service in WWII, he was a pioneer of venture capitalism. His work with the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission and the American Conservation Association—which he founded—made conservationism a part of America's agenda. In 1991, Laurance Rockefeller won a Congressional Gold Medal. He died on July 11, 2004, in New York City.
"I have always shared my father's vision, not only to give generously but also that people should live in harmony with nature."
"The concept that we have boundless resources of materials, manpower and spirit and therefore can waste, clearly no longer is true. Individually, people are finding that a simpler lifestyle provides greater satisfaction than relentless pursuit of materialism."
Laurance Rockefeller was born in New York City on May 26, 1910, to wealthy philanthropists John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The fourth of the family's six children, he had an older sister named Abby and four brothers: John III, Nelson, Winthrop and David.
The Rockefeller's family trips to national parks instilled in Laurance an early love of nature. During one trip to Yellowstone, Laurance formed a bond with Park Superintendent Horace M. Albright. Under Albright's mentorship, Laurance developed a sense of personal responsibility concerning environmental preservation—to which he would remain passionately committed his entire life.
Laurance and his siblings attended the progressive Lincoln School in Morningside Heights. Founded by John Dewey, the experimental school promoted learning by doing. In 1929, Laurance went on to attend Princeton University, followed by Harvard Law School. After two years at Harvard, Laurance decided that he didn't want to be a lawyer after all.
In August 1934, Laurance Rockefeller married Mary French, whose grandfather was Frederick Billings, president of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The couple's marriage produced three daughters and one son. In 1942, Rockefeller left his family to serve in the Navy during WWII. By the time he returned in 1945, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant commander.
Following his military service, Laurance Rockefeller became a pioneer of venture capitalism. After his grandfather died, Laurance inherited his seat on the Stock Exchange. Rather than building up his blue chip holdings, Rockefeller invested in a number of young enterprises focused on scientific and technological advancements. In 1969, he and the Rockefeller family formed the venture capital group Venrock Associates. Through his business ventures, including an investment in Eastern Airlines, Laurance multiplied his wealth many times over.
Throughout his business career, Laurance Rockefeller steadily retained his passionate commitment to environmental conservation. A member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, in the 1940s, he donated to the U.S. government the tract of land that was to become Tallman Mountain State Park. He would go on to sign an additional 30,000 acres at Jackson Hole to the government, and build visitor accommodations on the outskirts of Grand Teton National Park.
Rockefeller belonged to a number of organizations promoting environmental protection. During the Eisenhower administration, he was appointed chair of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission.
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While the term "American dynasty" might technically be an oxymoron, it's hard not to notice the similarities between the Rockefeller family and noble lineages that have spanned the globe for centuries. Like royal families have done in other nations, the Rockefellers have had a profound and irrevocable impact on the United States—from the oil and banking industries to property development, to politics and philanthropy—which will continue to resound for generations to come. Beginning with John D. Rockefeller Sr., who founded the Standard Oil Company and became one of the world's richest men, the Rockefeller troupe also includes John D. Rockefeller III, Winthrop Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller, Laurance Rockefeller and David Rockefeller.
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