John Davison Rockefeller


The Rockefeller children grew up on the Forest Hill estate but were not aware of the extent of their father's wealth as they lived a very modest life style. For instance; when his daughter Bessie was at college she went shopping and found she did not have enough money for her purchase. The clerk inquired if her father would pay if billed, Bessie was sure he would. The clerk inquired;
"What does your father do?"
"Well," Bessie hesitated, "I don't really know"
"What is his name?" inquired the clerk.
"Mr. Rockefeller."
"Not The Mr. Rockefeller!"
The flustered salesman assured his customer that what she had selected would be dispatched at once to her Vassar dormitory.

There was nothing permissive about the rearing of the Rockefeller children. They were assigned specific tasks, such as laying out of a flower garden, vegetable plot kept free of weeds for 1 cent a weed. Raking leaves, chopping kindling, gathering chips, breaking stones for a few cents per hour, from which they were to pledge 20 cents per week to the church, as they were taught like their father, it was their duty to give as well as to get. The entire family was very active in the Baptist church and was an integral part of their life. Sunday was observed as a rest interlude, a cold repast was eaten and when they would take a picnic lunch it would be prepared on Saturday. Rockefellers favorite foods were, lamb, bread & milk, and rice pudding.

John D. enjoyed the outdoors and his 700 acre summer home, Forest Hill Estate in E. Cleveland, which included a golf course,. fully functioning farm with houses for workers and their families, carriages, stables with the finest thoroughbreds in the county, two lakes. bicycle and foot trails. John D. would arise at 6:00 a.m. and walk barefoot on the dewy well groomed lawn.

John D. Rockefeller did not wait to become rich before starting his program of giving, he began in his teens to do his part and continued to do so. Over the years he contributed to many known and many unknown organizations. most of his contributions he did not want named after him, some of those that were are; Rockefeller Park, Rockefeller Building, Rockefeller Center. Others he gave to were Chicago University, Great Smoky National Park, Acadia Park, Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland Historical Society, and many more.

John D's philosophy was "Use money for good of fellowman". "That the man who dies rich dies in disgrace." He created the model on which today's grants-making foundations are based. He gave away more than $540 million in his life time and he bequeathed $500 million more to his family, with the understanding that they, in turn, would give it away.

John D. Rockefeller died may 23, 1937, two months before his 98th birthday. He was buried in the Rockefeller plot in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland.

Benefactions of John D. Rockefeller Sr. reached into eighty-eight countries. His passing brought messages by the thousands from far and near: condolences for his death and gratitude for this life.

Against scorching criticism in his lifetime, whether from muckrakers, courts or individuals, he had refused to defend himself. He was content to await the appraisal of time. Now the verdict was coming in....

Les Wexner, of Columbus, has been compared as one who is following Rockefeller's pattern of living and giving.