Grandsons of industry titans work for marine environment

By Laurie Bennett

December 28, 2011 at 8:55am

By definition, a group called “Sailors for the Sea” is apt to have old money on board.

The nonprofit group, which works to boost environmental awareness among boaters, includes several directors who belie the “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” adage.

Some of the continuing family fortunes came from industries that were major polluters.

David Rockefeller Jr., son of the former chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, is the president and a founding member. He is the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, co-founder of Standard Oil.

David Rockefeller Jr.
David Rockefeller Jr.

Henry Becton Jr., a former public media exec, is also a director. Becton’s grandfather founded Becton Dickinson & Co., which manufactures medical devices.

Also on the board is physician Edmund B. Cabot, grandson of Godfrey Lowell Cabot, founder of Cabot Corporation. The firm manufactures carbon black, which is used in rubber tires. (When former chairman Sam Bodman was named Energy secretary in 2005, the Huffington Post ran a headline saying, “The environment is doomed.”)

Rockefeller, a lifelong sailor who sports a sea captain’s beard, started the group after serving on the Pew Oceans Commission. The commission studied ways the federal government could safeguard the country’s marine environment, recommending better management of commercial fisheries, creation of a marine reserve network, and stricter regulation of fish farms and cruise ships.

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