Winthrop RockefellerWinthrop Rockefeller (1912-1973), politician and philanthropist, served as the first Republican governor of Arkansas since reconstruction. Early Life Winthrop Rockefeller was born 1 May 1912 in New York City, New York to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Greene Aldrich. He was the grandson of John Davison Rockefeller, Sr. who founded the Standard Oil Company. Winthrop attended Yale University from 1931 to 1934. He served in the United States Army during World War II advancing from Private to Colonel and earning a Bronze Star with clusters and Purple Heart for his actions aboard the troopship USS Henrico after it was attacked by a kamikaze mission. He appears in the Infantry Officer Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. Rockefeller married Barbara "Bobo" Sears in 1948 and established a self-admitted reputation as a playboy. He and Barbara went through a stormy divorce in 1954. Move to Arkansas Rockefeller moved to central Arkansas in 1953 and established Winrock Enterprises and Winrock Farms atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton, Arkansas. In 1955 Governor Orval Faubus appointed him as chairman of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (AIDC). In 1956 he married Jeanette Idris. Rockefeller fell in love with Arkansas and commenced an assortment of philanthropies and projects for the benefit of the people of the state. He financed the building of a model school at Morrilton, Arkansas, led efforts to establish a Fine Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, 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 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% of Arkansans considered themselves Republicans. But the people of Arkansas had grown tired of Orval 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. 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 campaign regarding 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 which made huge strides in making the Arkansas prison system into a more professionally-run institution. Rockefeller also focused on the State's lackluster educational system, providing funding for new buildings and increases in teacher salaries when the legislature allowed. Rockefeller won re-election in 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 recalcitrant legislature. Racial Politics 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 state in the Union by the time Rockefeller left office. When he entered office not one African-American had served on a Draft Board in the state. End of the Rockefeller Era In the campaign of 1970 Rockefeller expected to face Orval Faubus, who led the old-guard Democrats, but a young Turk named Dale Bumpers rose to the top of the Democratic heap by promising reform from the Democratic side of the aisle. The youth of Bumpers and the excitement of a new type of Democrat was too much for an incumbent Republican to overcome. Rockefeller had lost the 1970 election but had forced the Democrats to reform their own party. As a shocking last act, Governor Rockefeller commuted the sentences of every prisoner on Arkansas' Death Row and urged the Governors of other states to do likewise. In September 1972 Rockefeller was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and he 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, on 22 February 1973. Legacy The legacy of Winthrop Rockefeller lives on in the form of numerous charities, scholarships, and the activities of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. The foundation provides funding for projects across Arkansas to encourage economic development, education, and racial and social justice. 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 2 Dec 1966 cover of Time Magazine. Winthrop Rockefeller's son Winthrop Paul Rockefeller serves as the current Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas.