(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.