James S. McDonald

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James S. McDonald, C.E.O. of Rockefeller & Co., Dies at 56


James S. McDonald, the president and chief executive of Rockefeller & Company, a wealth management firm, died on Sunday in Massachusetts. He was 56.

Mr. McDonald died in a car of a single gunshot wound in Dartmouth, Mass., said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol County district attorney. “It’s still an open investigation, but it is an apparent suicide,” he said.

Rockefeller & Company is descended from an office established in 1882 by John D. Rockefeller to manage his family’s money. The company managed $25 billion in assets at the end of last year, according to its Web site.

Mr. McDonald, who lived in Manhattan, was also a member of the board of NYSE-Euronext and was chairman of its audit committee. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and served on the board of the CIT Group, a commercial lender to small and medium-size businesses. CIT Group has teetered on the verge of collapse despite receiving federal bailout money. Mr. McDonald stepped down along with two other directors in May.

Colin Campbell, the chairman of Rockefeller & Company, said in a statement of condolence that Mr. McDonald had “provided strong leadership” at the firm for more than eight years. Austin V. Shapard, its chief operating and financial officer, “has assumed day-to-day leadership of the company” on an interim basis, the company said.

Before joining Rockefeller & Company, Mr. McDonald was president and chief executive of Pell, Rudman & Company, a wealth management company in Boston. He graduated from Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Mr. McDonald is survived by his wife and three children.
Correction: September 21, 2009

Because of an editing error, an obituary on Wednesday about James S. McDonald, the chief executive of Rockefeller & Company, a wealth-management firm, referred incorrectly to Harvard College, suggesting it had changed its name since he graduated from it. Its name then was the same as it is now; he did not graduate “from what was the Harvard College.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B17 of the National edition with the headline: James McDonald, Fund Chief, 56. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe


Rockefeller & Co., dead in apparent suicide at 56

Sam Gustin
Sep 15th 2009 10:40AM
Updated Dec 4th 2009 3:25PM

James S. McDonald, the CEO of money-management firm Rockefeller & Co., died Sunday from an apparently self-inflicted wound. McDonald, who also sat on the board of the NYSE Euronext, the giant stock exchange, was 56 years old. In a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal Monday night, Barclay McFadden III, who called himself a friend of McDonald's family, said McDonald "took his own life," and said the family would have no further comment.

McDonald's apparent suicide came less than one week after Finn M. W. Casperson, the former chairman and CEO of Beneficial Corp. and another prominent financial figure, was found dead from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head near his own home in Westerly, Rhode Island.
The circumstances surrounding McDonald's passing were still unclear Tuesday morning, though he is believed to have taken his own life in New Bedford, Mass. Reached by DailyFinance, a detective with the New Bedford police department was unable to provide further details.

Colin Campbell, Chairman of Rockefeller & Co., which began as the "family office" of legendary industrialist John D. Rockefeller, issued a statement saying, "Jim McDonald was an exceptional individual who provided strong leadership of Rockefeller & Co. for over eight years. He will be missed by all of us privileged to have known and worked with him."

McDonald had been CEO of the New York-based Rockefeller & Co., which was originally founded in 1882 to manage the assets of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller and his family, since 2001. Today, the firm has some $28 billion under management for clients that include foundations, endowments, and private investors. Rockefeller & Co. doesn't disclose the performance of its investment portfolio.

McDonald graduated from Harvard University and earned a law degree from University of Virginia. Prior to joining Rockefeller & Co., he ran Pell, Rudman Trust Co. in Boston. McDonald was also chairman of the Japan Society in New York.

Richard Adamonis, a spokesman for NYSE Euronext where Mr. McDonald had served on the board of directors since 2003, issued the following statement: "The NYSE Euronext community mourns the loss and offers our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Jim McDonald, an outstanding and accomplished individual who served our capital markets and NYSE Euronext with great commitment and integrity."



Barron's Penta
Rock of Ages
Family-wealth advisor Rockefeller & Co. was hit by both the financial crisis and the death of its CEO. Not only did it survive, it thrived.
By Richard C. Morais
September 15, 2012

John D. Rockefeller's family office, Rockefeller & Co., was founded in 1882. It began selling its expertise to other families in 1980, and by mid-2008 it had $28 billion of clients' assets under its hood. Then came a tragic event that could have brought the firm to its knees. In September 2009, as the financial crisis raged, Rockefeller's chief executive, James S. McDonald, shot himself behind a car dealership in Dartmouth, Mass.

While world markets continued their downward spiral, it took a year for the Rockefeller...
Get The Full Story

James McDonald, the CEO of New York-based investment firm Rockefeller & Co., committed suicide Sunday while in New Bedford, Mass., according to a person familiar with the matter

The story was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which cited another source who, identifying himself as a friend of McDonald, said the investment executive “took his own life.”

A call to the New Bedford Police Department was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The company's board, led by Chairman Colin G. Campbell and Vice Chairman Mark F. Rockefeller, as will oversee Rockefeller's management, with chief financial officer Austin Shapard taking on the day-to-day leadership at the firm. Shapard has been with the firm for five years.

Rockefeller, which initially managed the wealth of the famed Rockefeller family and later opened its doors to outside investors, launched a Boston office in 2005. The local office is run by Mark J. Panarese.

In a prepared written statement, a Rockefeller spokesman said McDonald's death has come as a shock. "On Sunday evening, Sept. 13, the Company was informed that Jim McDonald, its CEO, had died. Our hearts go out to Jim‚s family and loved ones and we share their grief and sadness. Jim McDonald was an exceptional individual, who provided strong leadership of Rockefeller and Co. for over eight years. He will be missed by all of us privileged to have known and worked with him."