Portal:University of Chicago/Selected biography/1

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John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American industrialist. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, he founded the Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he officially retired in 1897. Standard Oil began as an Ohio partnership formed by John D. Rockefeller, his brother William Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, Jabez Bostwick, chemist Samuel Andrews, and a silent partner, Stephen V. Harkness. As kerosene and gasoline grew in importance, Rockefeller's wealth soared, and he became the world's richest man and first American worth more than a billion dollars. He is often regarded as the richest person in history.

Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in retirement. His foundations pioneered the development of medical research, and were instrumental in the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever. He is also the founder of both the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University. He was a devoted Northern Baptist and supported many church-based institutions throughout his life. Rockefeller adhered to total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.

He had four daughters and one son; John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was largely entrusted with the supervision of the foundations. (more...)