National Park Service: The First 75 Years
Biographical Vignettes
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John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

                                          by John Daugherty

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
(Courtesy of United Press International)

"I believe that every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation, every possession a duty." So reads a portion of the credo etched in a granite memorial to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., one of America's preeminent philanthropists.

Born in 1874. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was the fifth child and only son of John D. Rockefeller, the builder of Standard Oil. The elder Rockefeller became America's first billionaire. After graduating from Brown University in 1897, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., joined his father's business, where he learned that making money held little appeal. After 1910 John D. Rockefeller, Jr., devoted his life to philanthropy. With his father, he participated in the creation of notable philanthropic institutions such as the Rockefeller Institute, the General Education Board, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He was the major contributor to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a general purpose foundation. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is probably best remembered for the sponsorship of the construction of the Rockefeller Center in New York City, funding the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, and donating land in New York City for the United Nations complex.

In the field of conservation, Mr. Rockefeller's contributions to national parks are no less important. He purchased and donated thousands of acres of land to parks using finances or foundation grants. For example. through the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, he donated $5 million to buy private lands in the Great Smoky Mountains "in the beautiful spirit of my mother." Acadia, Shenandoah, and Grand Teton national parks also received generous donations of land from Mr. Rockefeller. In the 1920s, when commercial loggers threatened to destroy large stands of sugar pines adjacent to Yosemite, he provided more than $1 million to save 15,000 acres of forest. Mr. Rockefeller financed the construction of museums in Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone national parks. In 1972 Congress honored his contributions by creating a memorial parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, which bears his name. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., symbolizes the philanthropic spirit of many American families, foundations, and individuals that have been vital to the national parks.

From National Park Service: The First 75 Years


Last Modified: March 27 2017 03:00:00 pm EDT

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