- Winthrop Rockefeller
name = Winthrop Rockefeller
order = 37th
office = Governor of Arkansas
January 10 1967
January 12 1971
May 1, 1912
New York City, New York
death_date = death date and age|1973|2|22|1912|5|1
Palm Springs, California
party = Republican
spouse = Jievute Paulekiute Sears (divorced) Jeannette McDonnell
Winthrop A. Rockefeller (
May 1, 1912ndash February 22, 1973) was a politicianand philanthropistwho served as the first Republican Governor of Arkansassince Reconstruction. He was a third-generation member of the Rockefeller family.
Winthrop Rockefeller was born in
New Jerseyto John D. Rockefeller, Jr.and his wife, the former Abby Greene Aldrich. His four famous brothers were: Nelson, David, Laurance and John D. III. Nelson served as Governor of New Yorkand Vice President of the United States.
Yale Universityfrom 1931 to 1934 but was ejected as a result of misbehavior before earning his degree. Prior to attending Yale, he graduated from the Loomis Chaffee Schoolin Windsor, Connecticut.
He enlisted into the 77th Infantry Division in early 1941 and fought in
World War II, advancing from Private to Coloneland earning a Bronze Star with clusters and Purple Heartfor his actions aboard the troopship USS "Henrico", after a kamikazeattack during the Battle of Okinawa. His image appears in the Infantry Officer Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia.
14 February 1948, Rockefeller married for the first time. His bride was Jievute Paulekiute Sears, best known as Barbara "Bobo" Paul Sears (a.k.a. Eva Paul), a farmer's daughter and former model, showgirl, and erstwhile movie actress who had previously been the wife of Boston socialite Richard Sears, Jr. The wedding took place in Florida, and at the reception, a choir sang Negro spirituals. ["The Bride Wore Pink", Time magazine, 23 February 1948] Seven months after the wedding, she gave birth to the couple's only child, Winthrop Paul, later a Lieutenant Governorof Arkansas.
The Rockefellers separated in 1950 and divorced in 1954. The dissolution of the marriage was acrimonious, with suggestions that Winthrop Rockefeller owned an extensive collection of pornography. As Bobo Rockefeller said of the ensuing scandal, "I want him to suffer the way he has made me suffer; as he has humiliated me before the world." ["Speaking Up", Time magazine, 2 October 1950] During the couple's separation, she retreated to her parents' farm in Indiana and claimed that the $1 million trust fund set up for her son wasn't enough for a Rockefeller heir. "A Rockefeller wasn't born to be raised on a farm," said the socialite, who eventually received a $5.5 million settlement composed of $2 million in cash and a $3.5 million trust fund for her and her son. ["People: Names Make News", Time magazine, 16 August 1954] She later became engaged to hotelier Charles W. Mapes, Jr., though the marriage did not take place. As Bobo Rockefeller once said, "I intend to be a Mrs. Rockefeller until the day I die." ["Take It Or Leave It", Time magazine, 23 June 1952]
Move to Arkansas
Rockefeller moved to central
Arkansasin 1953 and established "Winrock Enterprises" and "Winrock Farms" atop Petit Jean Mountainnear Morrilton, Arkansas.
In 1954, Republican
Pratt C. Remmelpolled 37 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial general electionagainst Democrat Orval Eugene Faubus. It was a strong showing for a Republican candidate in Arkansas. Twelve years later, Rockefeller would build on Remmel's race and win the governorship for the Republican Party.
In 1955, Faubus named Rockefeller chairman of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (AIDC).
In 1956, Rockefeller married his second wife, Jeanette Edris Barrager Bartley McDonnell, a native of Washington State. She had previously been married to a pro
American footballplayer, a lawyer, and a stockbroker. By her, he acquired two stepchildren, Anne and Bruce Bartley.
Rockefeller initiated a number of philanthropies and projects for the benefit of the people of the state. He financed the building of a model school at Morrilton, and led efforts to establish a Fine Arts Center in Little Rock. He also financed the construction of medical clinics in some of the state's poorest counties, in addition to making annual gifts to the state's colleges and universities. These philanthropic activities continue to this day through the "Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation".
First political campaigns
In 1960, Rockefeller did not seek the governorship but instead raised funds for the Republican nominee,
Henry M. Britt, a lawyerfrom Hot Springs, the seat of Garland County. Britt barely polled 30 percent of the vote in his loss to Faubus. In 1962, he similarly supported Willis Ricketts, another in a long line of failed Republican candidates who sought to topple Faubus.
Rockefeller resigned his position with the AIDC and conducted his first campaign for governor in 1964. His campaign was ultimately unsuccessful against the powerful Faubus, but Rockefeller had energized and reformed the tiny Republican Party and had set the stage for the future.
When Rockefeller made his second run in 1966 only 11 percent of Arkansans considered themselves Republicans. But Arkansans had tired of Faubus after six terms as Governor and as head of the Democratic "machine." Democrats themselves seemed to be more interested in the reforms that Rockefeller offered in his campaign than "winning another one for the party." An odd coalition of Republicans and Democratic reform voters catapulted Rockefeller into the Governor's office. He defeated a
conservativeDemocratic Arkansas Supreme Courtjustice, James D. Johnsonof Conway, who preferred the appellation "Justice Jim". Ironically, years later, Johnson would switch to the Republican Party.
In a surprise, Rockefeller's running-mate for
lieutenant governor Maurice L. Britt, a decorated World War II veteran and a former professional football player, was narrowly elected to the second-ranking post over the Democrat James Pilkington.
Other Rockefeller running-mates, such as former Democratic State Representative
Jerry Thomassonof Arkadelphia, who sought the office of attorney generalin 1966 and 1968, and Mrs. Leona Troxellof Rose Bud in White County, who ran for state treasurer in 1968, were defeated.
Only three Republicans won election to the 100-member
Arkansas House of Representativesat the time of Rockefeller's first victory: George E. Nowotny, Jr., of Fort Smith, Danny L. Patrickof Madison County, and James "Jim" Sheets of Siloam Springs in Benton County.
At the time Winthrop became
Governor of Arkansas, his brother Nelson was already Governor of New York, and remained so throughout Winthrop's four years in office. They are often erroneously cited as the first two brothers to be governors at the same time, but they were actually the third case of this; the previous instances were Levi and Enoch Lincolnfrom 1827 to 1829, and John and William Biglerfrom 1852 to 1855. More recently, George W. and Jeb Bushwere both governors from 1999 to 2000.
Governor of Arkansas
The Rockefeller administration enthusiastically embarked on a series of reforms but faced a hostile Democratic legislature. Rockefeller endured a number of personal attacks and a concerted
whispering campaignregarding his personal life.
Rockefeller had a particular interest in the reform of the Arkansas prison system. Soon after his election he had received a shocking State Police report on the brutal conditions within the prison system. He decried the "lack of righteous indignation" about the situation and created the new Department of Corrections. He named a new warden, academic
Tom Murton, the first professional penologistArkansas had ever had in that role. However, he fired Murton less than a year later, when Murton's aggressive attempts to expose decades of corruption in the system subjected Arkansas to nationwide contempt.
Rockefeller also focused on the State's lackluster educational system, providing funding for new buildings and increases in teacher salaries when the legislature allowed.
At the 1968
Republican National Convention, Winthrop Rockefeller received backing from members of the Arkansas delegation as a " favorite son" presidential candidate. He received all of the Arkansas's delegation's 18 votes; his brother Nelson, then concluding a major presidential bid, received 277 and together they became the first, and to date the only, brothers ever to receive votes for President at the same major-party convention.
Rockefeller won re-election in November 1968 and proposed tax increases to pay for additional reforms. Rockefeller and the legislature dueled with competing public-relations campaigns and Rockefeller's plan ultimately collapsed in the face of public indifference. Much of Rockefeller's second term was spent fighting with the opposition legislature.
With Rockefeller's reelection, the Republicans won a rare seat in the
Arkansas State Senatewith the election of Jim Caldwell of Rogers in northwestern Arkansas.
During this term Rockefeller quietly and successfully completed the integration of Arkansas schools that had been such a political bombshell only a few years before. He established the Council on Human Relations despite opposition from the legislature. Draft boards in the state boasted the highest level of racial integration of any U.S. state by the time that Rockefeller left office.Fact|date=September 2007 When he entered office, not one
African-Americanhad served on a draft board in the state.Fact|date=September 2007
End of the Rockefeller era
In the 1970 campaign, Rockefeller expected to face
Orval Faubus, who led the old-guard Democrats, but Dale Leon Bumpers of Charleston in Franklin County rose to the top of the Democratic heap by promising reforms. Bumpers' charisma and "fresh face" were too much for an incumbent Republican to overcome. Rockefeller lost his third-term bid, but he caused the Democrats to reform their own party. The Republicans were reduced to a single member of each legislative chamber, as Danny Patrick, elected with Rockefeller, went down to defeat in Madison County.
As a dramatic last act, Governor Rockefeller, a longtime
death penalty opponent, commuted the sentences of every prisoner on Arkansas's Death Rowand urged the governors of other states to do likewise [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,876862,00.html Clemency in Arkansas - TIME ] ] [ [http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=126&scid=13 Clemency ] ] . Thirty-three years later, in January 2003, Illinois' lame duck governor, George Ryan, would do the same, granting blanket commutations to the 167 inmates then sentenced to death in that state.
Before he left office, Rockefeller appointed a young public administrator,
Jerry Climer, to the vacant post of Pulaski County clerk. Two years later, Climer ran for secretary of state. He later founded two Washington, D.C.-based "think tanks."
In 1972, Rockefeller persuaded
Len E. Blaylock, his former welfare commissioner known for expertise in government administration to be the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Blaylock lost to Bumpers by an even greater margin than had Rockefeller in 1970. Rockefeller that year also supported the unsuccessful candidacy of Wayne H. Babbitt, a North Little Rock veterinarianwho became the only Republican ever to challenge the reelection of U.S. Senator John L. McClellan.
Rockefeller hired as a $300-a-month secretary Judy Petty, who went on to serve two terms in the state legislature and to carry the Republican standard bearer twice in races for Congress.
In September 1972, Rockefeller was diagnosed with inoperable
cancer of the pancreasand endured a devastating round of chemotherapy. When he returned to Arkansas the populace was shocked at the gaunt and haggard appearance of what had been a giant of a man.
Winthrop Rockefeller died in
Palm Springs, California, at the age of sixty.
The legacy of Winthrop Rockefeller lives on in the form of numerous charities, scholarships, and the activities of the "Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation" and the "Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust". The foundation provides funding for projects across Arkansas to encourage economic development, education, and racial and social justice. In 1964, he founded "The Museum of Automobiles" on Petit Jean Mountain, which after his death in 1973 was given to the Arkansas State Parks system and a non-profit organization was formed to run it; in March 2007 the Charitable Trust pledged $100,000 for its ongoing operations if the museum raised an equal amount by the end of 2007. [ [http://www.wmcstations.com/Global/story.asp?S=6122157 wmcstations.com via AP] ]
Rockefeller's political legacy lives on in both the Republican and Democratic parties of Arkansas, both of which were forced to reform due to his presence in Arkansas politics.
Rockefeller was the subject of the December 2, 1966 cover of "Time" magazine.
Winthrop Rockefeller's son Winthrop Paul "Win" Rockefeller served as Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. Like his father, Win Rockefeller's political career was cut short by a devastating cancer.
The "Winrock Shopping Center" in
Albuquerque, New Mexicois named for Rockefeller, as he developed it in a relationship with the University of New Mexico, the owners of the property on which the shopping centerwas built. [http://www.cabq.gov/aes/s2midht.html]
During his tenure as Chairman of
Colonial Williamsburg, Winthrop was a frequent visitor at the foundation's Carter's Grove Plantation eight miles a way in James City County, Virginia. He is credited with helping develop a plan with Gussie Buschin the early 1970s to turn portion of the large tract of undeveloped land between the two points into the massive Anheuser-Busch(AB) investment there, which included building a large brewery, the Busch Gardens Europe theme park, the Kingsmillplanned resort community, and McLaws Circle, an office park. AB and related entities from that development plan now are the source of the area's largest employment base, surpassing both Colonial Williamsburg and the local military bases.
*"Memoirs", David Rockefeller, New York: Random House, 2002.
*"The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller: Worlds to Conquer, 1908-1958", New York: Doubleday, 1996.
*"Winthrop Rockefeller, Philanthropist: A Life of Change", John L. Ward, University of Arkansas Press, 2004.
*"Agenda for Reform: Winthrop Rockefeller As Governor of Arkansas, 1967-71", Cathy Kunzinger Urwin, University of Arkansas Press, 1991.
Winthrop Paul Rockefeller
* [http://www.wrockefellerfoundation.org Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation]
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/archive/covers/0,16641,1101661202,00.html Time Magazine Cover (Time Magazine Archive Site)]
* [http://www.wrcenter.net/ The Winthrop Rockefeller Center]
* Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture entry: [http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=122 Winthrop Rockefeller]
title=Governor of Arkansas
after=Dale L. Bumperssuccession box
title=Republican nominee for
Governor of Arkansas
years=1964, 1966, 1968, 1970
Len E. Blaylock
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.