Born to the manor, but devoted to the planet

By Laurie Bennett

June 7, 2008 at 7:35am

Pity the child with the silver spoon.

No matter what he accomplishes in life, it won’t measure up to the achievements of mom and dad.

Ted Turner
Ted Turner

Nevertheless, not all heirs go the way of Hulk Hogan’s offspring. Many find meaningful ways to spend their money.

Earlier generations - perhaps best characterized by John Rockefeller Jr. - tended to focus on philanthropy and the arts. The passion of the current brood is often the environment.

The Rockefeller cousins, trading more on their name than the size of their holdings, recently pushed ExxonMobile toward renewable fuels and reduction of greenhouse gases. The company, successor to John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, defeated the proposals at its annual meeting, but the cousins made headlines.

In the Kennedy dynasty, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a longstanding reputation as legal warrior for the environment. He’s an attorney for Riverkeeper, a nonprofit that works to protect the Hudson River, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Media titan Ted Turner also has environmentalists in the family. Daughter Laura Turner Seydel chairs the Captain Planet Foundation and is a co-founder of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund. Her husband, Rutherford Seydel, is a director of the Conservation Fund.

The five Turner siblings may inherited a concern for nature.

“I was born green,” Ted Turner recently told the New Yorker. “My first word was ‘pretty’ - my mother said it was because i saw a butterfly. That’s a good way to begin life, isn’t it?”

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