She comes from a wealthy family. Eileen Rockefeller
by Mary W Maxwell
Editor’s note: This was first published on September 8, 2013 with the title “Eileen Rockefeller for Senator”
Where can you find a book today that is full of positives about interpersonal love and the beauties of nature, and that is written by someone who has struggled to survive?
Here is that book: Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself. It is a beautiful volume that should win prizes, qua book. The writing is balanced and elegant. The author, Eileen Growald, nee Rockefeller, has a gift for story-telling, and gives us many vignettes that are real page-turners.
I bought the book to nose around regarding her 98-year old father, David. Not much there, so let’s get to the real subject matter, which has nothing to do with her being a Rockefeller. It is about her finding herself.
At high school graduation, Eileen’s school gave her a cup engraved “Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.” Classmates must have seen what she herself has only recently seen. Her humility is astonishing, as is her willingness to reveal the emotional storms she has been through.
Largeness of heart is the contribution she has been making for decades. Having graduated from Lesley College (now called Lesley University; must every school fit the big template?), and influenced by Howard Gardner’s books, Eileen went on to develop the subject of emotional intelligence, both in educational and community settings.
I call this review “Eileen Rockefeller for Senator” partly to show myself that I can stomach the idea of a Rockefeller being a genuine leader, and partly to send the message to her that she would win that Vermont seat easily. It would be great to have an organic farmer in the legislature. She knows her tomatoes!
(Note: I said Father doesn’t really figure in this book, but his avocation of collecting beetles rubbed off on Eileen and no doubt her five siblings. Her intimate knowledge of nature is not something she got from a library.)
It’s likely that critics will accuse Ms Growald of failing in honesty since she does not admit to any of the horrors caused by her forebears. I imagine she knows some of it and cannot bear it. A couple of the chapters hint at it but then brush it off.
Like any child, Eileen needs her Dad’s love. Anyway, there is no way she should be blamed for what he did. She would have done very differently.
Dad’s grandfather John D, the oilman (1839-1937), is known to have kept his righteous self-image to the end. Maybe if a daughter of his in the 1890s had written a book like this one, about the struggle to have healthy relationships, and the deliberate creation of love, much would have gone differently for subsequent generations!
Speaking of John D Rockefeller, Sr’s relatives, I think at least two have already inhabited the White House. It is argued by the late Sherman Skolnick, in his book Ahead of the Parade, that Bill Clinton was sired by the governor of Arkansas, Winthrop Rockefeller. It is said to be a strategy of the upper bosses to plant a child outside the family. Ah, the secrets we peasants don’t know about!
The other president with Rockefeller DNA, I speculate, is Barack Obama. While inspecting the published list of his 2008 campaign contributors I came to the conclusion that he is a Payne, via his mother’s mother (who died the day Obama was nominated for president, how strange!).
Henry B Payne (1810-1896) was an early leader in Ohio. His son Oliver Payne (1839-1917), whose firm merged with Standard Oil, seems to me to be one of the planted-outside-the-family Rockefellers. (Or maybe Henry and John D shared a common father?) I started to research it but quit, as is can’t possibly matter anyway. Maybe the Mormon birth registry knows all these things…
Oliver Payne’s daughter married a Whitney. Thus, with or without there being a Rockefeller ancestry, Obama may be related to John Hay “Jock” Whitney (1904-1982). Jock was US Ambassador to the UK (a very significant post for two centuries; it’s worth having a look at all who filled that job, as well as ambassador to Russia and China).
Note: Jock’s grandfather, John Hay, unrelated to the Payne family, had been private secretary to Abraham Lincoln, and later was US Secretary of State from 1898 to 1905. Naturally he was a Skull and Bones man at Yale.
If I am correct that Obama’s mother is of the Ohio Payne family, then another relative of Obama was an early female member of Congress, Frances Bolton (1885-1977), born Frances Payne Bingham. She and her son Oliver Bolton were members of the House at the same time.
Congresswoman Bolton made innumerable trips to Africa, supposedly along human-rights lines. I tend to think there were other motives. (Consider: Thomas Barnett’s 2004 book, The Pentagon’s New Map, shows a world with no Africa in it. There are some odd things going on, are there not? (See also Leonard Horowitz’s book, Emerging Viruses.)
Which brings me back to both Eileen Rockefeller and Obama. Who knows what their forebears got up to? But biology is not destiny, at least not for any particular individual. Eileen was able to shake off her indoctrination when it came to values that really matter to her and we may assume that Barack Obama can do likewise. He can rise up and help the human race at this very moment.
Thank you, Eileen Rockefeller Growald, for breaking into the future. I hope the rest of us will hurry up and get on with it.
— Mary W Maxwell resides in South Australia