RBF Institutional Milestones

Generational Transition

In the 1970s, the deaths of four members of the third generation of Rockefellers necessitated an unexpected acceleration in generational transfer of leadership. Winthrop Rockefeller passed away in 1972, Abby Rockefeller Mauze in 1976, John D. Rockefeller 3rd in 1978, and Nelson Rockefeller in 1979. The three brothers had been founding trustees in 1940, and their sister joined the Fund in 1955. By the end of the decade, Laurance and David Rockefeller were the only two surviving siblings and the only two remaining founders. Trusteeship had extended to the fourth generation (known as the cousins) with the 1958 election of Abby M. O’Neill. But as the 1970s drew to a close, the cousins held the majority of family seats on the board for the first time. David Rockefeller, Jr., would become the first cousin to chair the board in 1987, after leading the Fund's program review and redesign in 1983, widely regarded as the turning point when leadership was passed to the cousins by then-chair, David Rockefeller. David, Jr., brought to the Fund his keen interest in the arts and his experience in nonprofit arts organizations, particularly the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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Browse the major events in the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's history