David Rockefeller Sr, the CEO, Chairman and President of the famous Chase Manhattan Bank passed away in his home at the age of 101. He died in his sleep due to congestive heart failure. He was the oldest billionaire in the world. The businessman took the position as the head of the Chase Manhattan bank in 1981 and he had a flourishing 35-year career. He was celebrated as ‘America’s last great international business statesman’. He was one of the most influential persons in the American history of finance and philanthropy.
The grandfather of Rockefeller was John D. Rockefeller, a famous oil baron who became the richest man in the world and died in 1987. David Rockefeller emerged as a financial stalwart. Even though the family owned just 5% shares of the Chase Manhattan bank, it was often called as David’s bank. His financial expertise inspired President Richard Nixon so much so that Rockefeller was offered Treasury Secretary position. However, he declined because he worried that his position could influence the government in numerous ways.
The actual worth of the billionaire is still undisclosed. Rockefeller was a well-known philanthropist who didn’t think twice before donating millions of dollars to the Council on Foreign Relations, Museum of Modern Art and his alma meter Harvard. The medical research center in New York which was run as a family-sponsored center was converted into Rockefeller University. Rockefeller was bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 by the then President Bill Clinton for his contribution towards the funding of International Executive Service Corps.
The mammoth development of the Chase bank could be attributed towards David Rockefeller. He played a quintessential role in changing the banking word in general. In 1946, when he came to Chase, the business of the bank was restricted to the city according to the laws of New York. David, using his powerful brother Nelson who served as Republican Governor of New York overturned the laws in 1960.
After the restrictive laws were thrown out, Chase expanded to Nassau, Westchester and beyond America, reaching Asia, Europe, and Latin America. In the 1960s, Chase Manhattan bank became the second biggest bank in America. However, due to the rise in competition, Chase lost many of its clients in the mid-1970s. Financial historians commented that David Rockefeller had several strong interests which limited the time he spent on the bank.
Rockefeller made sure that Chase remained as a good corporate bank. When New York City was edging closer to bankruptcy in 1975, Chase purchased $400 million city bonds and notes even though the bank itself was struggling. Chase also invested about $730 million in real estate which went sour by 1970s when the real estate market fell. In 1981, Rockefeller retired from the bank, but Chase which was once the third largest bank in the world was pushed down to the 89th position. The iconic skyline of New York couldn’t have become a reality without Rockefeller’s support.