Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller
Burial Location Visited Vice President Grave #
Sleepy Hollow, New York May 22, 2010 25th Visited

Grandson of the famous co-founder
of the Standard Oil Company,
Nelson Rockefeller became vice
president after Gerald Ford
ascended to the presidency
when Richard Nixon resigned.

Like many of his family members, Nelson
Rockefeller was a philanthropist and a
patron of the arts. From 1932 until his
death he was a trustee of the Museum of
Modern Art. He also founded the American
International Association for Economic
and Social Development in 1946.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Though he eventually rose to the office of vice president, Nelson Rockefeller's political career was mostly defined by his time as the governor of New York, which started in 1959. Rockefeller was characterized as a liberal Republican, and used urban renewal projects to strengthen the New York economy. He led the state in furthering development in a large list of areas including transportation, education, and welfare. He also had aspirations for the White House, and in 1962 it was believed by many people that he would be the Republican candidate for the presidency two years later. All that changed when the governor divorced his wife of over thirty years. Soon after, he married Margaretta "Happy" Murphy, who was eighteen years his junior and the former wife of a family friend, who had divorced just a month prior. The scandal greatly hurt him politically, as he was denounced within his own party, even by friends and allies. Rockefeller's personal life overshadowed his public service, and he lost a key primary election in California to Senator Barry Goldwater. At the Republican National Convention in 1964, he gave a speech in support of civil rights legislation and against Goldwater's politics, warning that the party was in "real danger of subversion by a radical, well-financed and highly disciplined minority". The delegation erupted in outrage, and what little support he had left shifted to Goldwater. Nevertheless, after refocusing his efforts, Rockefeller was able to win re-election for the governorship.

* Richard Nixon's resignation from the presidency on August 9, 1974 led to Gerald Ford's rise to power, and also created a vacancy in the vice presidency. Rockefeller, who had been considered as a possible candidate to replace Spiro Agnew when he resigned a year earlier, was nominated by Ford on August 20th. He begrudgingly accepted this new opportunity to be vice president, knowing it might be his last chance to ascend to the nation's highest office. After several congressional hearings, Rockefeller was approved and took the vice presidential oath of office on December 19th. He was the second person to fill a vacancy in the vice presidency as a result of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the first being Ford himself. Rockefeller's shortened term was not easy for him; he received great opposition from conservative members of his own party. He wanted to play an important role in working with President Ford on domestic policy, but White House Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld made sure that the vice president was usually circumvented on such matters. Eventually, Ford suggested to Rockefeller in a meeting that he should consider voluntarily stepping away from the 1976 election ticket. Though he was pained to do so, Rockefeller complied, and Ford ran with a more conservative candidate, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas. Democrats Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were the victors. Before his time in office was over, Rockefeller was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He then retired from public office, concentrating instead on the arts.

* On January 27th, 1979, it was reported by family spokesman Hugh Morrow that the former vice president had died of a heart attack the previous day at his desk at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Shortly thereafter, more details began to emerge that differed from the original statement regarding his death. It was reported that he had not been at Rockefeller Center, but was actually at a nearby townhouse with his twenty-five-year-old aide, Megan Marshack. The time of Rockefeller's suspected heart attack was also changed, as it was announced that the 911 call was not placed until approximately one hour after Rockefeller was stricken. Additionally, it was not Marshack who alerted paramedics as had been said, but a friend named Ponchitta Pierce, who Marshack summoned to the townhouse. Pierce, a television personality, did not identify the former vice president over the telephone. Before many of these details surfaced, in quick fashion, Rockefeller's body was cremated and his ashes buried. The family declined to have an autopsy performed. The popular theory persists that Rockefeller and Marshack had been engaged in "undeniably intimate circumstances" just prior to his death.

Second Lady: Margaretta Large Fitler Murphy Rockefeller

      - Spouse: Mary Todhunter Clark Rockefeller (m. 1930-1962)
                      Margaretta Large Fitler Murphy Rockefeller (m. 1963-1979)

Political Party: Republican Party

Served Under: Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (1974-1977)

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