John Davison Rockefeller III

Assembled by D. A. Sharpe



John Davison Rockefeller III was born March 21, 1906 in New York City.  He was a philanthropist and third-generation member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the eldest son of the philanthropists John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. His siblings were Abby, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop and David.


He was the 3rd cousin, 5 times removed of Johann Phillip Rockefeller (1746-1813), the husband of Catherina Sharp (1744-1780), my 3rd great grand aunt. 


Like his sister Abby, John III eventually settled on philanthropy as his major interest. His brothers Nelson and Winthrop devoted themselves to politics while Laurance went into conservation and David went into banking. He was a major force behind the establishment of the Council on Foundations, the Foundation Center and Independent Sector. He took a leading role in organizing the Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy (better known as the Peterson Commission) and the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (better known as the Filer Commission). He also made the initial donation to support Yale University's Program on Non-Profit Organizations, the first academic research center to focus on nonprofits.

In addition to his interest in philanthropy, Rockefeller made major commitments to supporting organizations related to East Asian affairs, including the Institute of Pacific Relations, the Asia Society, and the Japan Society. He was also a major supporter of the Population Council.





John D. Rockefeller III served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1952 to 1971.  He participated in the forming of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.  He gave leadership to the Population Council, a group that conducted research on population problems across the world.


Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the Year 1906, the year of John's birthday: The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.  Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub. Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.  A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.  There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.  Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.  With a mere 1.4million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.


The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower! The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour.  The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year . A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.  More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at HOME .


Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!  Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as "substandard." Sugar cost four cents a pound.  Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.  Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.  Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.  Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.


Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza

2. Tuberculosis

3. Diarrhea

4. Heart disease

5. Stroke


The American flag had 45 stars.  Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!


Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.  There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day. Two out of every 10 U.S.adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help. There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!


Wikipedia Entry:


John III was the next Rockefeller manager for all family undertakings of social relevance. Since 1929, in total he sat on twenty boards of various institutions, most of which were family-related. The more notable of these were:


John III was at one time a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Foreign Policy Association and the Institute of Pacific Relations, as well as being on the board of directors of Princeton University. In late 1950, he accompanied secretary of state John Foster Dulles and Douglas MacArthur on a trip to Japan to conclude a peace treaty, during which time he consulted with many Japanese leaders in practically every important sphere of that country's life.


He was a prominent third-generation family philanthropist in his own right and founder of the Asia Society, the major institution he established in 1956 to foster greater cooperation between Asia and the United States. He also founded the Population Council in 1952, and a reconstituted Japan Society. In addition, he set up the United Negro College Fund for the ongoing education of African Americans, carrying on the family tradition in this area with his grandfather's funding of the education of black women at Spelman College in Atlanta.


He was on his father's Advisory Committee in the family office, Room 5600. He was also president of the family's principal philanthropy run by family members, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, from its inception in 1940 to 1956. In 1929, he joined the family's renowned Rockefeller Foundation; elected to the board in 1931 he subsequently became chairman of this major philanthropic organization for twenty years and was responsible for changing the focus of the institution.


The principal philanthropic institution he created was the JDR III Fund in 1963, its major program being the Asian Cultural Program, created in 1967 to encourage East-West cultural exchange. The Fund was wound-up upon his death in 1979, but the Cultural Program continued as the Asian Cultural Council, which has provided grant assistance to more than 4,000 Asians and Americans in the area of the arts. Funding for its programs is derived from a combination of endowment income and contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations in the United States and Asia.


In the mid-1950s, John III assumed the leadership of a committee of civic leaders who were working to create Lincoln Center. He became the key figure in the fund-raising efforts and in forging a consensus among the civic leaders and others who were essential to its success. The Center itself was built over a period from 1959 to 1966. He was its first president, commencing in 1956, and he became its chairman in 1961. He was chairman until 1970 when he was duly elected honorary chairman.


In the late 1960s, Rockefeller III was responsible for the creation of the Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy (usually known as the Peterson Commission, headed by Peter G. Peterson) and the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (usually known as the Filer Commission). He established the Rockefeller Public Service Awards in 1958. In 1959, he received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York". In 1976, he received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. Rockefeller College at Princeton University was named in his honor in 1982.




On November 11, 1932, he married the socially connected Blanchette Ferry Hooker (19091992), who was to serve as chairman of the Asian Cultural Council from 1980 to 1990, and who established the Blanchette H. Rockefeller Fellowship Fund, in Japan. They had one son and three daughters:


John Davison Rockefeller III was killed in an automobile accident in Mount Pleasant, New York, (near the Rockefeller family estate in Pocantico), on July 10, 1978, at the age of 72. He was buried at the Rockefeller Family Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.






Reports compiled by:


Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe

805 Derting Road East

Aurora, TX 76078-3712