DR – Still Holding the Reins
Pre-Order the Book of Recollections of DR
Running this photo of David Rockefeller brought wonderful recollections from a host of Chase Alumni. The stories -- plus photos -- will go into a book that will be presented to "DR" for Christmas.
Click here to see a PDF of the book prepared for David Rockefeller, based on our members' written and photographic contributions. (Viewable only by paying CAA members.)
We are going to print a limited edition, softcover version of the 36-page book.
The cost is $22 with U.S. domestic shipping and $35 with overseas shipping.
You must pre-pay with your order. If you haven't placed your order, do so soon. We expect to ship by the end of February 2014.
Click here to purchase with U.S. shipping.
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Here are sample stories:
From John Vaughey: The note about David Rockefeller brought a surge of memories about him, all primarily relating to how fundamentally decent he was in dealing with subordinates.
- Soon after I first moved into big ticket lending after having served as a division executive in the rapidly growing pension trust business, I walked somewhat cautiously into a gathering of mostly more senior Chase lenders in Indianapolis where we had gathered after a dinner hosted by David. I personally knew very few of the lenders in the room. David looked up from a couch, sensed my uncertainty, and beckoned from me to sit next to him on the coach. His doing so made it easy for me to get connected and feel at ease. I was convinced at the time that he did know my name. I saw his gesture as an act of fundamental decency, without regard to how able I was or was not.
- I remember how wonderfully he made this junior feel as we made a joint call on a customer in California. He stepped out of a limo and made me feel at that moment all he cared about was me and the customer.
- During the NYC-NY State financial crisis of 1975-1976 when I served as head of the government banking division, David responded to political pressure from a complicated, somewhat frightening source by having one of his assistants call me. She explained the pressure David had received and then gave me a message from him: “John do what you think is right.” Thrilling. I did not see his message then nor now as a statement about me. Instead, I saw it as a philosophical statement that he was not going to let political pressures overrule the high stakes decision making process then in place. He could have asked for some information, or worse, for me to look at the issue again. Importantly, he did neither.
From David Levow (Legacy Chase 1966-1981): Well, this is more about me than DR but….it was in the mid-or late 1970s, I was a VP and just initiated into the Cardiovascular Lab (aka “the gym”) and occasionally I would somehow manage to get there at 7am when it opened.
I did my workout and was heading into the locker room to shower when who walks out from the showers totally naked was DR.
I had met him once or twice but what do you say?
Best thing I could come up with was “good morning, sir” which I kind of stammered out.
What would you have said?
From Tony Aston: In 1974/5 Chase was in the process of setting up The Chase National Bank (Egypt) SAE, a new joint venture bank. Three or four Chase officers, including me, lived in Cairo at that time negotiating with our new partner and setting up the infrastructure for the new bank. DR made many visits to the Middle East in those years and Egypt was included on one particular trip. As part of the programme for that trip a large reception had been arranged at the Nile Hilton Hotel where DR happened to be staying. On the evening of the reception all the local Chase staff were running about like chickens without heads carrying out many last minute tasks to ensure the evening went smoothly. One of my tasks involved talking to one of the visiting Chase team in his hotel room. As I left this individual's room and walked down the hallway, I saw DR walking towards me. I was a junior officer and, although I had met DR before, I had not done so one-on-one. So, I didn't quite know what to say, and to this day can't remember what I actually did say, but almost instantly DR put me at ease and then asked me to join him for a drink in his room. Well, I now had a problem! I had many things to do for the imminent reception and could hardly just disappear from view for 20 minutes or so to have a drink, even if it was with the Chairman. What to do? Well, I decided that I had no choice but to politely decline and explain my dilemma, which I did. To this day I wonder whether I did the right thing! How rude to decline a drink with the Chairman and yet how "correct" to put the interests of the Bank before my own. Can any Agony Aunt advise on the correct response? Anyway, my abiding memory of this event is that DR invited a junior member of staff that he barely knew, if at all, to join him for a drink in the privacy of his own room when, in reality, he must have been jet-lagged and tired with many more important things on his mind. A true gentleman.
From Gene Swanzey: A story that points out DR's absolute adherence to manners and courtesy:
During the late 1970s and early 80s I worked closely with DR to put together the New York City Partnership. We made a trip to Washington DC to meet with high level officials to speak on behalf of New York City's new endeavor to strengthen the City's financial footing. Midday DR told me he wanted to visit the Philips Art Museum since one of his pieces of art was on loan to the museum. We arrived and found that the painting was hanging slightly askew. DR very politely brought this the attention of staff, somehow angering an elderly visitor to the museum, who very impolitely stated, "Sir, one would think you owned the painting." DR hesitated and then responded very courteously, "Madam, I know the owner!"
From Phil DeFord: In the good old days of the gym when it was on the ground floor at 1 CMP, David Rockefeller regularly went to the gym and was very friendly. I will always remember about 2 days after Christmas one year, we were both at the gym early one morning and had a conversation about what David gets for Christmas. David was very proud of a brand new wallet that he just got. It was just one of those conversations that you remember.
From Paul Didier: On July 10, 1978 when David’s brother John D. Rockefeller III was killed in an auto accident I was travelling with DR in Pittsburgh as his personal travel assistant. We had just arrived and DR had a private one-on-one dinner that night with the chairman of a Pittsburgh company. When I returned from my dinner I learned what happened and that he was already at the airport with the pilots on the Chase plane. I was patched through to him and told him that I would cancel all his arrangements with our other clients for the next three or four days that we were to be in Pittsburgh, and to give them his regrets for cancelling, which I did the following day. Two days later when I was back in the office David telephoned me just to say that he wanted to apologize for leaving me in Pittsburgh. Since I worked very closely with David for several years I came to know that this was the kind of man he was…he always cared about others before himself, even in a situation like this one when he was grieving the loss of his brother. I never had a more gracious or thoughtful boss.
From Ronald Watt (Country Manager, Pakistan, 1981-1984): Since my retirement, I have been writing a book about my three years in Pakistan, where I established the Chase Manhattan Bank. DR gave us all a great amount of help both professionally and personally. Here are two stories:
In December 1982, President Reagan invited President Zia of Pakistan to the United States on a State Visit. Chase took this opportunity to invite President Zia and his delegation to attend a dinner in New York, at the Asia Society, attended by some senior members of the U.S. business community. DR hosted the dinner and made a short after dinner speech.
The highlight of the speech was when DR told the story about his brother Nelson entering the Khyber Pass in April 1978, on a visit to Afghanistan. It turned out that this was the very day of the communist military coup in Kabul; this insurgency occurred in Afghanistan a year before the Soviet invasion. Pakistan's Secret Service had received early intelligence of this coup and Zia had immediately given orders that Nelson's convoy should be stopped in the Khyber Pass, turned round and returned to Peshawar.
In his after dinner speech, David turned to President Zia and said: “Mr President. My family will be forever grateful to you, Sir, for saving my brother's life!”
President Zia was greatly moved to have received such a compliment. Responding to David’s speech, and after a considerable pause, Zia spoke eloquently about the Chase Manhattan Bank, and about the bank’s work in his country. Of course, this was very helpful. The Government was our largest customer!
A year later David arranged a visit to Pakistan and India, and during the visit he formally opened the bank’s second branch in Pakistan at Lahore, the ancient capital of the Punjab. David brought various presents for the dignitaries that he had arranged to meet in Pakistan, but he also kindly brought some presents for the Chase staff including a Magnum bottle of Gevrey Chambertin, which he kindly gave to me. It was such a most thoughtful gift, really appreciated – as Pakistan is a Muslim country, alcohol was severely restricted and, by 1984, there was no wine at all left in Karachi!
From Tony Lord: David is a very special person, who left an extremely positive impression on a young (28) Chase officer! Following completion of the Global Credit Program, I was assigned to Chase, Singapore.
Mr. Rockefeller was scheduled to host one of his International Forums in Singapore, and we were asked to cut our home leave short to make sure we were in Singapore when the Rockefeller party arrived.
Henk Kwant, General Manager, Yeap Cheong Gark, AGM - Operations and Systems, and I arrived at Singapore Airport to greet the Rockefeller party. Henk introduced me to David, and he responded that he was very pleased to meet me, and understood that I'd been asked to cut our home leave short in order to be in Singapore for the Forum - and that he really appreciated our being there.
That evening, there was a dinner for all of the officers at the General Manager's home. Before desert was served, my former wife and I felt a hand on each of our shoulders - it was David! He asked if we would mind spending some time talking with him as we walked around the grounds of the house? My former wife and I had both worked for The Chartered Bank in the UK and Hong Kong, and Chase had just purchased a 13+% investment in that organization. It seems there was little opportunity for Chase to undertake any meaningful "due diligence" and David had a long list of questions about the day-to-day operations (credit control, compensation programs etc., etc) at Chartered Bank.
These were the first two "meetings" I had with the Chairman, and those when I was not even an officer, and had only graduated from Global Credit a few days earlier!
The genuine concern, interest and courtesy we experienced were duplicated several times over the next few years when I was assigned to the new Regional Office in Hong Kong and subsequently to the new AIG/Chase joint venture in Manila.
It was an honor to work for Chase in those days, in no small part because of the unique characteristics of its Chairman, David Rockefeller. I have always tried, in my own small way, to emulate David in terms of his very strong interpersonal skills, and his neverending interest in the people who worked for him.
From Roger Griffin: My memory is also primarily of country visits. DR visited Seoul in September 1980 when I had the privilege of being the country manager for Korea. This must have been one of his last trips as Chairman of Chase and it coincided with the Reagan versus Carter Presidential election campaign and was not long after the events commencing with the assassination of President Park in October 1979 and culminating in the Kwangju incident and the assumption of the Presidency by Chun Doo Hwan effectively by coup d’etat in May 1980. Events which had made a lot of people nervous about the country to which Chase had a large and profitable exposure. I had taken up my job in May and thought there was a lot riding on the visit for the bank, for the country given the banks prominent role as funder to both the public and private sector and, I figured, for me personally. We all worked very hard to make sure the visit went smoothly and I’m happy to say we received a “best country visit ever” message from DR via Jim Phelan after it was done. I refuse to believe he said this to all the girls!
The most sensitive part of the trip was the visit to the Blue House, the Korean equivalent of the White House, to meet the President which the Chairman of major banks in those days traditionally made. DR was the first prominent private sector person to meet with Chun Doo Hwan and his visit had special significance given who DR is. It was also traditional, at least within Chase, for the country manager to accompany the Chairman on this visit. DR had asked me beforehand to be prepared to write up notes on the meeting and several messages unrelated to Chase and the economic condition of the country at the time (which was not great) were exchanged. I was acutely aware that DR was leaving the following day and I wasn’t but DR went out of his way to make me feel comfortable, was graciousness itself throughout and appreciative when I handed over the only copy of my notes. It was an occasion I shall never forget.
He returned to Seoul as Chairman of the International Advisory Board a couple of years later and we had a much more relaxed itinerary, though it did involve another Blue House visit, and included a private dinner for staff only at a Korean restaurant. An event that didn’t go unnoticed by the ROK Government as I learned from the Deputy Minister of Finance, and a good friend of the bank, as he related the details to me the following morning as DR was with the DPM. But I expect scrutiny, both public and private, happened wherever DR went and I’m sure he knew it.
From Scott Swensen: I was an Assistant Treasurer in the Land Transportation Division in either 1978 or 1979. I had developed a relationship with the United Parcel Service Company, which was then a privately held company based in Greenwich, CT. UPS announced that it was going to redo its bank credit facility and I then went up the chain of command in the Corporate Bank to ask Mr. Rockefeller to make a marketing call on UPS. He agreed and the three men in the reporting line above me all said that they were going to attend. Mr. Bublitz then informed us that only one person could accompany Mr. Rockefeller. As I was the only member of the Corporate Bank who had ever called on the company, my supervisors had no choice but to let me be the person to attend. I met Mr. Rockefeller in Purchase where he was attending a Texaco Board meeting. I sat in the back of Mr. Rockefeller’s limousine and briefed him on the company and what I wanted him to say. Mr. Rockefeller and the UPS Chairman had not met before but had many mutual friends. They had a warm conversation. After that conversation, Mr. Rockefeller then raised the prospect of joining their new credit facility, and told him all of the benefits of having a relationship with Chase. While Mr. Rockefeller certainly has a very patrician public image, in private he was a very direct and convincing businessman. Subsequently, we were invited to join the credit facility and whenever I saw Mr. Rockefeller in the officer’s gym at 1 CMP, he would ask for an update on the relationship.
From Peggi Einhorn: My memory of Mr. Rockefeller concerns my participation as a NYC Partnership sponsored David Rockefeller Fellow in 1999. Because I worked for Chase at the time I was seated next to him at a private luncheon for the 12 fellows. What a gracious man! I also had the honor of speaking for my class of fellows at the 10th anniversary dinner for the David Rockefeller Fellows program, which had been established in his honor. I enjoy public speaking BUT I was a wreck thinking about addressing an audience including Mr. Rockefeller! It was such an honor though. He is a wonderful man and a such a model for bringing the private and public sectors together. Having retired from the bank in 2004, I now work for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as their CFO…so public/private partnership is still top of the mind.
From George Renert: In 1984 I opened an Art Gallery/ Branch in Soho for Chase, featuring works from the Chase Corporate Art Collection (started by Mr Rockefeller). It was a revolutionary concept with many firsts, including displaying our corporate art to the public away from its inaccessible CMP home. I received a call from DR's office saying he would like a " quick" tour. Prior to his arrival another call from his office said that due to an emergency dental issue for his late wife Peggy, could DR spend about two hours with me. Naturally, I panicked, dreading spending what seemed like an eternity with an icon. On arriving and introducing himself, he spent about 15 minutes asking about my background, my family, the background behind the strategy to display the art, followed by a personalized meet-and-greet with every staff member, making everyone feel they were the most important employee in the Bank. The two hours flew by in a flash. Experiencing Mr. Rockefeller's gentle, sincere and patient manner was one of the highlights of my career at Chase.
From Robert W. Chandler Edwards: An example of gentlemanly class!
In the mid ‘70s a gaggle of Latin American country management was convened in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to provide back-up to local BancoLar colleagues as hosts to the visiting International Advisory Committee at the time. We were lodged in the Hilton and pretty much on standby between meals and one or two events over three or four days. Several of the usual suspects, including the writer, Jim Therrien and Tony Walton set a 5 pm sauna hour to detox and plan the evening’s post-event cultural outings. One evening, about 6 pm, David appeared in the sauna to recover from Sao Paulo traffic and his full schedule and greeted us all by name. A general area conversation followed, during which a female locker room attendant refreshed the sauna stove with water and herbs. David thanked her in Portuguese – Obrigado; the rest of us took a lesson in manners.
From Steve Crytser: While country manager on Guam in 1978, I was an active sailor and racer. I was holding down first place in the Marianas Yacht Club Championship Series with the final race scheduled for Sunday and I had to sail and finish the race to win the series. On Tuesday of that week I received a telex from New York advising that David and a small entourage would be arriving on Guam in the G3 on Race Day Sunday to refuel en route to Manila for meetings. I knew David was a sailor and after much thought and a lengthy discussion with my then wife I decided that he would understand and I decided to stand David up and go racing.
My gracious wife met DR’s plane on arrival and did her very best to explain my dilemma and absence.
Fortunately I won the race and the series…..unfortunately, I hardly slept a wink all week until the DR party flew back in to Guam several days later to refuel on the way home. I was certain that my Chase career had come to an end!
I met the plane as they taxied up to a stop. Dick Fenn was first off with the question, “Well, did you win?” The rest of the entourage asked the same question as they deplaned and I was certain beyond any doubt that my days at Chase had come to an end. David was last off and simply said, “Congratulations, Steve…..good job” or something to that effect.
What a great guy!
From Rudi Bogni:
(1) In 1975 I was three years into my Chase career. After graduating from the Chase Plaza Credit Dept and having managed a small branch in Italy, I was put in charge at age 28 of Italy’s Operations, IT, Accounting and Legal. Such responsibilities included security. You can imagine how I felt when – on a visit to Milan Branch – David succeeded in evading our carefully planned security to visit his favourite shirt-maker. Luckily the Red Brigades were not prepared for aesthetically minded bankers. David returned to the branch without a worry in the world, only to quip that the Calder mobile, prominently hanging in the banking hall, had probably been exhibited in an incorrect or unintended way.
(2) Just a few years ago I saw David, escorted by a nephew, at a reception at the Foreign Minister’s residence in Tokyo. I felt so impressed seeing him there so straight and still impeccable. I went over to thank him for the great years at Chase, while he was still Chairman. Unfortunately I was suffering a terrible back-ache that week and could not keep standing, an unpleasant and embarrassing diplomatic situation to deal with as an Imperial Princess was making her way through the rooms. David was the image of elegance, while our hosts had to provide a human shield to me, much younger, sitting on a stool and bent in two.
From Dwight Coffin: In most gatherings of young employees and our SDP class, Mr. Rockefeller would always say, "At the Chase, we are in the business of contributing to a better community, a better nation and a better world." In the last 48 years, I have never heard another CEO make such an elegant and
thoughtful statement. I believe Mr. Rockefeller truly believed in and sought to implement that lofty goal, both personally and professionally. Those words marked David Rockefeller's leadership of the Chase Manhattan Bank and his influence on me as a young trainee.
From Bob Mitchell:
1. Back in the 70’s, while I was working at Chase, my father was an officer at New England Merchants National Bank in Boston. One weekend, my folks were visiting us and we all went shopping on Madison Avenue. In a decorating store, I rounded the corner and found myself face-to-face with David. We had worked together when I was in London, and used the treadmill side-by-side in the Fitness Lab, so he greeted me by name, as David always did. Well, you could have bowled my father over with a feather. I introduced him to David, and I doubt he ever washed his hand again after that.And as for my political capital in the family, it was never higher than after that serendipitous episode.
2. While I was in London, a call came in from New York. David was travelling to Ireland where he had a meeting on Monday, and he had nothing to do on Sunday. Help! Well, the folks at Chase and Bank of Ireland took care of the problem, but for the rest of us, it was a real eye-opener. The Rockefellers actually found themselves sometimes away from home, alone, in a strange place, and at loose ends with no plans – just like us mere mortals. Wonders will never cease!
From Jack MacPhail: It was in the early 80s and I was the country manager of Chase in Stockholm. DR liked coming up to that neck of the woods and during one day of meetings (at the top of the house in whatever organization we happened to meet, needless to say), David looked at me and said: "Jack, do you know where I can buy a pair of socks" (pronounced as only he could). I said "sure" and off we went, in as close to a limo as the Swedes would ever permit, this to the NK Department store in downtown Stockholm. In we went, no security, just David and I. He found his desired pair and, when it came time to pay, said "Jack, do you happen to have any money?" I went home that PM to my wife and said something like "I can't believe I just bought DAVID ROCKEFELLER a pair of socks!" Anyone who knew him also knew he rarely carried a lot of money. It was an honor.
Another story involved Jim Forbes, the senior minister of the Riverside Church, where Sandy and I were married. Riverside being the "Rockefeller church", I mentioned David to our good friend Jim. Jim proceeded to say that he and David know each other well, so well that David frequently had Jim and wife Bettye up to Maine in the summer for a week of R&R, this to spell Jim from the rigors of running that very big church.
Have many more, including DR being yanked off the stage at Cornell's B-school in the mid-70s to take a call from then-Governor Carey of NYS during the debt crisis. He was in the middle of a presentation to, I'd say, a couple hundred students, and when he returned, hhe umbly mentioned why he had had to interrupt his talk. The kids loved it and our graduation take from Cornell that year set recruiting records.
Above all, a humble and gracious man will always be my remembrance, a role model.
From Dennis Longwell: As with most of the other writers, I have many fond memories of my interactions with DR over the years, but a couple from early in my career stand out, as they exemplify his interest in and caring for "juniors" in the bank.
Three years into my Chase service, I was selected as Assistant Secretary to the Executive Office, a one-year assignment that involved regular and frequent contact with DR and others then at the top. The role was one of junior support staff, but the experience was fast-paced and exhilarating – hard work but great exposure. Two anecdotes from that year come particularly to mind. On Christmas Eve, I answered our doorbell in New Jersey to find a delivery service presenting me with a spectacular magnum of a big name Bordeaux accompanied by a personal note from DR thanking me for my service. Such characteristic thoughtfulness.
Later that winter, the Executive Office, with me and a few others as staff, had a weekend retreat at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont, then a RockResort. After a long day followed by a working dinner, DR gently suggested that we not return to the conference room but rather walk across the street to the historic home of his brother Laurence, who met this group of suit-clad bankers in his flannel shirt and corduroys. Laurence and David graciously led us through the entire house, pointing out the differing wood trim in each room brought to Vermont from a variety of Western states, marking the early advance of the railroad across the country. At the end of this weekend, we flew back on the Chase plane to Westchester where the entire party, except myself, departed for near-by homes. As he was leaving the plane, David asked me to stay aboard, as he had instructed the pilots to fly a special mission from Westchester to Newark in order to get me close to my home. The rental car I had reserved in White Plains for a snowy drive home went unused!
From James Goulka: In the spring of 1973, we held the grand opening of Chase Bank International, a new Edge Act subsidiary in Miami. Mr. Rockefeller attended to host the opening and hold a press conference. At the reception, I was chatting with a prospective customer, whom I invited at the last minute and, consequently, whose name was not on the list of attendees. Mr. Rockefeller, came up to me, a very young first-evel officer, and, with the help of his aide, greeted me by name and cast a glow that gave the impression that we were close colleagues, not newly met. I introduced my prospect. Without a blink, Mr Rockefeller immediately inquired about my prospect’s father and brother. After Mr. Rockefeller moved on, my prospect told me that Mr. Rockefeller had visited his family house in Buenos Aires in the mid-1950s and that there had been no contact during the intervening 20 years. The prospect was so honored by Mr. Rockefeller’s unaided recollection that he became a good and longterm customer of the bank.
From David Burns: Soon after joining Chase Manhattan Limited in London in 1980, I was despatched off to Santiago, Chile, Chase having been mandated by the Chilean Government to advise and assist in the privatisation of the national telephone company, the Compañia de Telefonos de Chile. I remember boarding the plane at Gatwick Airport with some trepidation. It was a very long flight, I had never been to Chile and I knew nothing about national telephone companies, let alone how one went about privatising them. Don Roth, then a managing director at Chase Limited, had told me not to worry: "It's easy," he said, "just make sure you get the issue price right." Don went on to become Treasurer at the World Bank (!). Luckily for me, Brian O'Neill was working at the Chase office in Santiago at the time. He didn't know much about privatising telephone companies either, but we pooled our very limited knowledge and, though the learning curve was pretty steep, we soon knew what we were doing. We also struck up a strong friendship which still stands firm today.
The point of this short anecdote though is that while I was in Chile, David Rockefeller visited Santiago. Everything was amazingly well organised, and I was impressed by the detail of the briefing book that had been prepared for him. Not being an official member of the team in Chase's Chilean office, I was not part of the programme, but Harry Tether, the Country Manager at the time, very kindly invited me to the evening reception on the day of DR's arrival, which was held at Santiago's exclusive country club, Los Leones. Not surprisingly. there were a lot of people there representing all parts of Chilean private and public sector life. I was introduced to David as the reception started and he showed a keen interest in the project I was involved in, asking a number of relevant questions before he moved on to meet other guests. It was a brief conversation but I was so impressed by him. He was interested, interesting and very charming.
The next morning I was working in the office that had been assigned to me when David, accompanied by, among others, Frank Stankard and Jim Bergford, came into the branch. As they passed my door, DR paused, looked at me and came in saying, as he did so, "Good morning David, tell me a little more about the telephone company project you are working on." I was amazed that, quite apart from remembering my name, he also remembered what it was I was working on! Some years later, I had left Chase by then, I attended the American Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner in London. David was the guest of honour and we briefly met at the start of the function. As we shook hands he said, "Hello David, I remember we met in Santiago, Chile."
From David Sambar: Story One: In the early sixties, David was transiting thru Beirut after a trip to Kuwait with Dr. Samuel Schweitzer, Chairman of Swiss Banking Corp as well as an ex President of the World Bank a supreme gentleman whose name I can't recall now. I was then Assistant Branch Manager and accompanied them to the airport where each had different flights to take; David's was Pan Am 102, a mid-morning flight to New York. Technical error caused several hours delay and we decided to go back into town for lunch. Knowing David's delicate taste for French food, we settled at Le Temporel where I was taught to eat mussels (moules marinieres) the French way. DR finally made the late afternoon flight thru Paris but missed his appointment in New York.
Story 2: In early 1968 David stopped in Beirut and Pat Healey, Vice President and Branch Manager gave a small private dinner party at home in his honour. My wife Salma had given birth to a baby boy a week before but was very keen to meet DR. She pulled herself together and came along; she was thrilled to be seated at his table of four.
Years later, we saw David at a cocktail party and when shaking hands with Salma asked her: "How is Habib?" We were both stunned at his infinite capacity for remembering names and people. That is one of the traits that made people love him.
From Mark Kaufmann (SVP, Director of Corporate Development 1973-1996): Why DR has always been my role model...two recollections:
First: When, as Director of Corporate Development in the 1970s I would present an opportunity to the Executive Committee for an acquisition or disinvestment, David always asked the same question at the end. "Are we paying attention to our social responsibility toward the personnel being acquired or downsized, and the community in which the subject company is domiciled.?" That mantra has lived with me as I pursued the balance of my career in M&A.
Second: I had just begun my Chase career and was asked to make a presentation to the Executive Committee up at Pocantico. I was asking them to permit and fund the establishment of Regional Service Centers in 7 locations around the country. Barry Sullivan, very forcefully objected, as the then head of Correspondent Banking since he saw these offices as a threat to his clients and the Chase relationship. 'Over my dead body" was his exact expression, and that took the other members of the committee, and certainly me, by surprise. David wisely asked me to leave the room and wait outside while they discussed the obvious conflict. David then came out, explained that there would be further discussion when they returned to CMP but would I please stay for dinner. (not anticipated by me.) At dinner he most graciously seated me to his right between he and his wife Peggy and I learned a great deal about the DR gift of making people comfortable.and welcome. This was the beginning of my education in diplomacy from a master. P.S. We opened an office in Cleveland.
My best years at Chase were those working for DR.
From Kathy Richards: Over the years that Roderick and I worked for Chase, we had several delightful encounters with Mr. Rockefeller. Always charming and considerate, he had a wonderful way of putting people around him at ease. Soon after arriving in Hong Kong as a new bride in 1976, I was seated next to David at a staff dinner by Elizabeth Bish, probably because I had only recently left the bank. We shared memories of the Maine coast, of boating and the village of Kennebunkport, where I had just been married. I've always been grateful that he made such an effort to amuse me, despite the fact that I had to admit to having just voted for Jimmy Carter, rather than for his brother, Nelson Rockefeller. I've never forgotten his graciousness in the face of a young, and clearly misguided, voter.
But our favorite family story about David was the tale of his trip to Lagos, in about 1980, when Roderick was Managing Director of Chase Merchant Bank Nigeria Ltd. (Roderick loved this story, and I know he'd want me to share it with everyone despite the fact that it's second hand.) David was taken to be presented to General Obasanjo, then military dictator of Nigeria, and the interview was going a bit roughly. Obasanjo, though not a tall man, was a great scowling presence, and David was working hard to strike up a conversation with him.Finally, he asked the General what he intended to do after he retired from government with the resumption of democratic rule. Obasanjo answered that he had a farm up country and was looking forward to raising cattle. Immediately, David responded, "My wife, Peggy, raises cattle. I'll have to get her to send you some of her prize bull semen."
General Obasanjo's scowling face split into a huge grin and his deep rumbling laughter filled the room. The tension in the meeting disappeared, and the two men talked for well over an hour, establishing a firm friendship.
Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller, for the fine example you set for all of us young bankers. You inspired us with your vision and your generosity of spirit. It was a great privilege to have worked with you.