• Description

My biography of Winthrop Rockefeller will be the first book-length study to examine his life in its entirety from his birth in 1912 to his death in 1973. Born in New York on May 1, 1912, Winthrop spent the first forty years of his life based there. After being educated in New York and Connecticut, Winthrop worked in the oil fields of Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico for three years before returning to New York. Starting in 1940, he began six years in the military, serving in the Pacific theatre during World War II. Upon his return, Winthrop once again attempted to make a permanent career and life in New York. In 1948 he married his first wife, Barbara "Bobo" Sears, and soon after the couple had Winthrop's only biological offspring, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller. In 1949, the couple separated, finally divorcing in 1954. The contested and protracted divorce, played out in the popular press and public eye, led to Winthrop making a life-changing decision in June 1953 when he moved to Arkansas. The move gave Winthrop a newfound sense of purpose and focus, away from the pressures attached to his family name and the responsibilities that came with it. Setting up home on a mountain farm, Winthrop worked in earnest to use his talents and resources to make Arkansas a better place. As part of his new life, he remarried in 1956 to Jeannette Edris, who was from a prominent Seattle family. In 1966, Winthrop was elected governor of Arkansas, the first Republican to hold that office in the state in almost a century. After two terms in which he tried to push through an agenda for reform with mixed success in a still heavily dominated Democratic state, Winthrop lost the office in 1970 to political newcomer Dale Bumpers. Shortly after, Winthrop was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and died on February 22, 1973. Winthrop's time in Arkansas and his time as governor had a profound impact on the state that is still evident today.