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Archive for Monday, July 17, 2006

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller dies at 57

July 17, 2006

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— Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, the unassuming billionaire who last year abandoned a race for Arkansas governor - a post once held by his father - died Sunday after unsuccessful treatments for a blood disorder, his office said. He was 57.

Rockefeller died Sunday morning at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with his family present, his spokesman Steve Brawner said.

Bone marrow transplants Oct. 7 and March 29 at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center failed to cure an unclassified myeloproliferative disorder. Rockefeller returned to Arkansas on July 8 and immediately en-tered the hospital. The next day, he notified Gov. Mike Huckabee that he could not continue his duties, at least temporarily.

"Win Rockefeller em-bodied the ideals of compassion, generosity, and humility. He was a wealthy man, but his real wealth was not his money, but his heart for serving others," Huckabee said in a statement. The governor cut short a trip to New Orleans for the Southern Governor's Assn. meeting to return to Little Rock.

Under the Arkansas constitution, Huckabee does not have the authority to name a replacement to fill the remainder of Rockefeller's term, which ends in January. Senate President Jim Argue, D-Little Rock, will direct Arkansas government when Huckabee is out of state.

The great-grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller ranked No. 283 on the Forbes magazine list of the nation's wealthiest people in 2005, with a fortune the magazine estimated at $1.2 billion. As lieutenant governor, a part-time job, he donated his $34,673 state salary to charity.

Born Sept. 17, 1948, in New York, Rockefeller was the only child of former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller and Barbara "Bobo" Sears. An uncle was former vice president Nelson Rockefeller, and current U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is a cousin.

Rockefeller entered politics in 1996, winning a special election to complete the unexpired lieutenant governor term of Huckabee, who became governor after Jim Guy Tucker was convicted in a fraud case as part of the Whitewater investigation.

Rockefeller won re-election twice, winning 67 percent of the vote in 1998 and 60 percent in 2002. As lieutenant governor, he presided over the state Senate and served as governor when Huckabee was out of the state.

He also served as an economic cheerleader for the state, traveling at his own expense to seek foreign investments here.

Under the state's term-limits law, he could not serve another term.

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