Monday, July 12, 2004

US - USVI: Laurance Rockefeller dies at 94

NEW YORK (AP) -- Laurance Rockefeller, a conservationist, philanthropist and leading figure in the field of venture capital, died in his sleep Sunday morning. He was 94.

The cause of death was pulmonary fibrosis, his spokesman Fraser Seitel said in a statement.

Rockefeller was No. 377 on this year's Forbes magazine list of 587 billionaires, with $1.5 billion. But he was perhaps best known for his environmental work: He served under five presidents in several capacities related to conservation and the outdoors.

He founded the American Conservation Association in 1958 and was head of Jackson Hole Preserve Inc., a conservation organization that played a major role in protecting parts of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming and redwood trees in California.

Rockefeller helped develop national parks in Wyoming, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Vermont, and chaired the White House Conference on Natural Beauty.

Rockefeller also was a pivotal developer of the economics field that became known as venture capital.

In 1938 he helped finance World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker's Eastern Airlines, and he later invested in McDonnell Aircraft Corp., Intel Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. He sought to fund ventures that would strengthen national security, welfare or the economy.

40 years ago Mr.Rockefeller donated much of the Island of St.John along with nearly 6000 offshore acres to the US government for the express purpose of establishing a National Park which today stands as one of the jewels of the US park system, attracting nearly a million visitors a year.

In so doing he's enriched our wallets and enriched our lives.

We'll miss him for his contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands, and I'll miss him for demonstrating that one could be both a capitalist and a conservationist as well as a staunch defender of national security.

He represented that nearly extinct (saner) breed of American liberalism where these notions weren't spun into mutually exclusive labels.

Rest In Peace Mr. Rockefeller, and know that your Virgin Island legacy will be remembered forever.
You are already missed.

UPDATE: Scooped our local media.

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