Newspaper article International New York Times

Philanthropist Richard Rockefeller, 65

Newspaper article International New York Times

Philanthropist Richard Rockefeller, 65

Article excerpt

A member of one of America's most illustrious families, Rockefeller used his inherited wealth to help both poor patients and the environment.

As a late afternoon sun tinted the room in gold, the children and grandchildren of David Rockefeller, the banker and philanthropist, gathered around a long table this month for a dinner of scallops and vegetables and toasted his 99th birthday.

His son Richard might have offered the most moving tribute, his younger sister, Eileen Rockefeller Growald, recalled. He thanked his father, at the table's other end, for being "a deeply kind person" and for "his love of family and his desire to keep our family together."

"While an absolutely true and beautiful sentiment," she said, "it was also a projection on my brother's part, because my brother was a deeply kind and compassionate person."

The next morning, June 13, Richard Rockefeller left the family estate outside New York City for Westchester County Airport to return home to Maine on one of the two small planes he piloted, a Piper Meridian single-engine turboprop, hoping to make a meeting of the board of one of his many causes, this one to conserve the rugged Maine seacoast. It was rainy and foggy with a cloud ceiling of 200 feet. The plane's left wing struck a tree, sending the plane crashing to the ground in front of horse stables in Harrison, N.Y., and killing Mr. Rockefeller, the plane's sole occupant, according to a preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Mr. Rockefeller, 65, was what is commonly called a Renaissance man, a Harvard-trained family doctor who could, among other enthusiasms, play the bagpipe, take polished photographs, carve wood, and ski, hike and sail expertly. But he devoted himself to a half-dozen causes, among them healing the wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder, curing sleeping sickness in Africa and saving the seas. …

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