Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908-1979) was a businessman, politician, statesman, art collector, and philanthropist. A grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, and the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, he expanded the family's tradition of public life from business and philanthropy into government service and politics.
Rockefeller began his public life as an officer in a number of family-related enterprises, including Rockefeller Center, Creole Oil (the Venezuelan subsidiary of Standard Oil), and the Museum of Modern Art; but he soon began to establish new organizations to fulfill his personal interests. In 1940 he and his siblings founded their own philanthropic foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; for work in Latin America, Rockefeller established the American International Association for Economic and Social Development (AIA) in 1946 and the International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC) in 1947; in 1954 he established the Museum of Primitive Art in New York City.
Rockefeller's service in government began in 1933 as a member of the Westchester County Board of Health; he moved onto the national and international scene in 1940 as the Coordinator of the Office of Inter-American Affairs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He received subsequent presidential appointments from Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard M. Nixon, working on government reorganization, public policy, and foreign affairs.
In the 1950s and 1960s Rockefeller sought elective office himself. Beginning in 1958, he won election to four consecutive terms as governor of New York State, where, as a progressive Republican, he vastly increased the state's role in education, environmental protection, transportation, housing, welfare, and the arts. His candidacies for the Republican nomination for president in 1960, 1964, and 1968 were not successful. He resigned as governor in 1973 and the next year was nominated as vice president of the United States, serving under President Gerald Ford (1974-1977).
Nelson A. Rockefeller died of a heart attack at his offices in New York City on January 26, 1979.
A biographical chronology of Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller's life
Nelson A. Rockefeller: A Centennial Celebration in 100 Photographs, July 8, 1908 - July 8, 2008