David Rockefeller, R.I.P.

Kunk Fu Zoby Kung Fu Zu3/20/17
It has been reported that David Rockefeller, the last surviving grandchild of John D. Rockefeller, died today at the age of 101. I never met Mr. Rockefeller, but did run into him in 1989.

Sometime in the Fall of that year, I was visiting Japan on one of my many trips to that country. Having completed my business, I had taken the “Limousine” bus from Tokyo to Narita Airport and was making my way to the Departure area to catch my flight. Since I was flying to Hong Kong, I was required to go through the immigration process in order to leave the country.

Anyone who remembers the old terminal at Narita Airport will recall the less-than-spacious area allocated for processing those departing Japanese shores by air. Not only was the area small, it was also not very well organized, particularly when crowded. On the day I was departing, it was very crowded.

Seeing the huge crowd assembled in the area, I sighed, knowing it would be quite some time before my passport would receive a departure stamp. The immigration area was filled all the way back to the railing which separated it from the rest of the hall.

I shuffled into the throng and waited. In less than a minute I noticed a smallish elderly man in a Macintosh walk into a line near me. I was more than a little surprised to see it was David Rockefeller. We stood, sometimes next to each other, sometimes a little ahead or behind each other depending upon how quickly our lines moved. In the end, my line moved a bit more quickly than his and I left him behind.

Anyone who has travelled Asia, will understand that VIPs did not, in the 1980’s, go through the same down-and-dirty travel routine that the rest of us plebs had to endure. A vivid example of this phenomenon had been on display to me a few days before when entering Japan. I had seen how a pretty young lady had taken the Chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and led him past everyone else waiting in line to gain entry into Japan. While the rest of us stood behind the “Alien” counter, a small gate was unlocked and he went through it. Of course, it was re-locked once this was done. As I recall, the Chairman’s name was Bill Purdy; a tall stately looking Scot who had no problem taking advantage of his position.

Therefore, the reader should not be surprised that I was amazed that a billionaire, hugely influential financier and head of one of the most powerful families in America would stand quietly in line with the rest of us. Such behavior is not common. The man must have had some good impulses.

On a side note, while waiting in line I had wondered why Mr. Rockefeller had visited Japan. I got my answer shortly thereafter. It came out that the Rockefeller family trust had sold a majority share of the Rockefeller Center to the Mitsubishi Group in Japan, and Mr. Rockefeller had been in Tokyo tying up the deal.


Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. He also likes Oysters Rockefeller. • (652 views)

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25 Responses to David Rockefeller, R.I.P.

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Interesting. Of course, the Rockefellers tended to be relatively liberal, which may have something to do with why Rockefeller would put up with standing in line like everyone else. Then, too, some people just don’t choose to insist on RHIP, which reportedly had consequences when some pushy lieutenant was insisting on pushing forward at the ice cream bar on a World War II ship — only to be brought up short by Admiral Halsey, who was waiting his turn.

    Elizabeth agrees with your portrayal of Narita Airport.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      the Rockefellers tended to be relatively liberal, which may have something to do with why Rockefeller would put up with standing in line like everyone else.

      If Rockefeller did this out of liberal sentiments, good for him. I tend to believe it probably was the result of a proper upbringing. Who knows.

      If liberalism actually resulted in good manners, I would be less harsh on it. Unfortunately, from what I have seen, liberalism is more often associated with some of the more base behavior which one encounters.

      One of the things which impressed me about Rockefeller was that he waited in line like everyone else and he had nothing to gain from it. There were no cameras and believe me, the Japanese did not recognize him. It seemed to me to be a case where a truly good person acts properly even when nobody is watching.

      Narita was, and still is, somewhat of a trial. Some people theorized the immigration areas were so poorly designed on purpose. The purpose being to discourage too many Japanese from traveling overseas and too many aliens from visiting Japan.

      I hope some of my stories about Japan help bring back good memories for Elizabeth.

  2. Anniel says:

    I couldn’t help but smile about Narita Airport. When our oldest son was helping with a conference in Yokohama our daughter, Cait, who was 12, and spoke good Japanese, went with him. A Japanese gentleman took them under his wing, especially Cait, whom he referred to as “Little Sister San.” When they were leaving, He took them early to catch their train to Narita, carefully explained their route to our son in English, then turned to Little Sister San and, very carefully, explained everything again to her in Japanese. She was amused and touched both.

    It’s nice to hear something good about a Rockefeller being a more classical liberal.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Imouto-san. I don’t think I had heard that before. Oka san, Oto san and O ni san I know, but I don’t recall running into anyone with a little sister. Nice story.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I checked with Elizabeth, and she said that imouto-san is little sister, oka-san is mother, ota-san is father, oni-san is big brother, one-san is big sister, and ototo-san is little brother. The “ou” is pronounced like “oh”, and “one” is pronounced “oh-nay”.

      • David Ray says:

        Dad-gum, but you three travelers get around. I feel jealous.

        (This article reminds me of that instructive article when an islamist tried to wrest your seat on that german train. Glad that you’re on our side.)

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I think one of the advantages of foreign travel is it forces a person to keep his eyes open.

          Unfortunately, my eyesight ain’t what it used to be. But then again, I don’t travel nearly as much as I did twenty or thirty years ago.

          • David Ray says:

            And when you did travel, I doubt you left your wife in baggage while you rested in the air-conditioned seat.
            That’s what was valued/gleaned by that article. It appears that that wise-ass would be billed as the 99% that doesn’t enter into jihad; he’d just cheer them on when not trying to shamelessly take from Kung Fu Guy.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, that’s the difference between a “moderate” and a radical Muslim. A radical Muslim wants to kill us, and a “moderate” Muslim wants the radical to kill us.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          David, I am the stereotypical home body. But then it makes it doubly fascinating to read of the adventures of others, real or in the best fiction.

          Mr. Kung is such a lightweight in terms of schmoozing with the celebs though. My father would have probably burst in like a bull elephant and struck up a conversation. He did that when he ran into Patrick Wayne in some New York restaurant. He was the opposite of shy. But me thinks that David Rockefeller was one who would probably have appreciated not so much fuss.

          I’m not sure where celebrities draw the line. Yeah, it’s the stereotypical idea that fandom is such a bother. And yet I think most love hating it and would miss it if their “specialness” was not acknowledged…even by sometimes overzealous fans.

          Had Mr. Kung had more background info, they could have discussed Rolodex.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Much depends on who you consider celebrities. I’ve certainly met a lot of writers at conventions, some of them successful.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I would draw a line between media/entertainment tramps and those whose celebrity — although perhaps niche in the case of many writers — is based upon solid accomplishment.

              Bruce Jenner (once a true celebrity) is now a media tramp. Tom Wolfe is a celebrity. Sarah Palin definitely has one foot in both camps.

              By the way, we elected a media/entertainment tramp for president.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                David Rockefeller makes an interesting contrast with Chelsea Clinton. Both started off with great inheritances, but she never went beyond that. One may not like what David Rockefeller did as a globalist, but he at least really did something.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Imagine if one’s wife were a “globalist.” What would that mean? It would mean she wouldn’t, or couldn’t, embrace her beloved at home and instead tramped her feelings toward everyone.

                I have no personal animus for David Rockefeller. But anyone steeped in Cultural Marxism (the reigning paradigm wherever you go now) is going to feel guilty about America (which should be the object of one’s affection) and thus attracted to the only redeeming and untainted paradigm above this nation-state: a global new world order.

                No one wants to defend imperfect and messy reality. That takes men of character, wisdom, and patience. It’s much easier to mouth the words “global.”

                Here we defend America and the West. Rich spoiled kids such as Chelsea are not a new phenomenon. And rich bankers disdaining things such as good morals and good principles is not new either. Again, I don’t know where Rockefeller fits in this. But he would certainly not be the first “nice guy” who might have been a useful idiots for noxious causes.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I don’t know that one out of 100,000 Americans would have recognized David Rockefeller. Or maybe not. This article about him has an interesting factoid:

    In silent testimony to his power and reach was his Rolodex, a catalog of some 150,000 names of people he had met as a banker-statesman. It required a room of its own beside his office.

    If he had an actual physical Roledex (or several), he was certainly an old-fashioned kind of guy. Any portable electronic device could hold that many names and more.

    He was obviously a unique personality. Here’s a quote that may explain his tolerance for waiting in line with the great unwashed (although I’m sure that Mr. Kung had taken a shower that day):

    I am a passionate traveler, and from the time I was a child, travel formed me as much as my formal education. In order to appreciate cultures of another nation, one needs to go there, know the people and mingle with the culture of that country. One way to do that, if one is lucky enough, is to buy things from those cultures.

    Another quote:

    I do not like to be unkind.

    Who knows his ideology? It’s possible he was what we should perhaps call “Enabling Liberal” (rather than “classical liberal”) in the sense that there is (was) this certain living ideology that welcomed into its immune system the cancer of Leftism because this Leftism had a protein-coat that masked its true intentions with a bunch of nicey-nice. Still, perhaps he was not that far gone. Here’s an interesting quote in regards to his thoughts on museums:

    A museum has to renew its collection to be alive, but that does not mean we give on important old works.

    And it’s interesting that “the poor” could probably learn more from this following quote by Rockefeller than from all the community-agitator crap from the evil Obama and his ilk:

    I am convinced that material things can contribute a lot to making one’s life pleasant, but, basically, if you do not have very good friends and relatives who matter to you, life will be really empty and sad and material things cease to be important.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      David Rockefeller was a well-known globalist, but a few decades that could be either liberal or conservative. His giant Rolodex sounds like the “Farley file” of Robert Heinlein’s Double Star. This was a file of everyone someone had met with whatever personal information was known; politicians found it useful when they met people again. The concept was attributed to Jim Farley, hence the name.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’m intrigued by the Rolodex Room. I’ve recently acquired (for free, not 99 dollars) The Electrodex Plus from Rolodex. (Here’s an online manual for those who are curious as to what this thing could do.) (More photos of the unit here.)

        Apparently this whiz-bang electronic device dates from about 1990. I’ve played around on it a bit. Trust me. David probably had more luck, and was more efficient, using traditional paper Rolodexes. (Rolodexi?)

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I don’t know that one out of 100,000 Americans would have recognized David Rockefeller. Or maybe not.

      As a teenager I found Walter Wriston, head of Citibank, fascinating. How much more so, David Rockefeller who was more powerful and better connected than even Wriston.

      Besides, I have an unusually good memory for faces, as attested in the first story I wrote for ST. Link below.

      http://www.stubbornthings.org/a-matter-of-minutes/

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Rockefeller said:

      I am a passionate traveler, and from the time I was a child, travel formed me as much as my formal education. In order to appreciate cultures of another nation, one needs to go there, know the people and mingle with the culture of that country. One way to do that, if one is lucky enough, is to buy things from those cultures.

      I couldn’t agree more and that belief has had a major influence on my life.

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