David Rockefeller was born in New York City in 1915, the youngest child of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. He graduated from Harvard College in 1936 and earned a Ph.D. in Economics in 1940 from the University of Chicago. He served with the U.S. Army in North Africa and France during World War II. David joined the Chase National Bank in 1946 and rose through the ranks to become chairman and chief executive officer of the Chase Manhattan Bank in 1969. He retired in 1981.
Under David’s leadership, Chase expanded its international presence and operations, modernized its management and facilities, and implemented innovative programs – an art collection, community outreach, minority hiring, and a philanthropic foundation – which made the bank a leader in corporate social responsibility and set the standard for the American business community. David’s concerns as a banker and businessman reflected his schooling in the Rockefeller philanthropic tradition: a focus on fundamental problems, meticulous attention to detail, and a preference for collaborative action with others. These ideals also guided his private philanthropy. David assumed a leadership role in many institutions founded by his grandfather and parents, especially The Rockefeller University and the Museum of Modern Art, and also at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which he and his brothers had created in 1940.
David served as the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, The Americas Society/Council of the Americas, the Trilateral Commission, and the Partnership for New York City. David founded the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in recognition of his wife Peggy’s deep interest in the future of American Agriculture, and he helped to establish the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, an innovative university-wide initiative at Harvard University.
David has four daughters and two sons, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. His wife of 55 years, the former Margaret McGrath, died in March 1996.