Lasting legacy

This issue of the Islander includes a special section conveying the community’s gratitude to David Rockefeller Sr. and his family for their conservation vision and their remarkable legacy of generosity on Mount Desert Island. It also salutes Rockefeller on the occasion of his 100th birthday tomorrow, June 12.

Three weeks ago, Rockefeller announced that 1,000 acres of wildlands owned by the family in the vicinity of Little Long Pond in Seal Harbor would be donated to the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve. The land has long been open to the public, but the transfer leaves no doubt that it will remain a permanent part of the island’s natural and social landscape.

At the announcement in a field by the calm waters of Little Long Pond, with the granite peaks of Acadia National Park towering behind, the sense of excitement and appreciation was palpable. Most remarkable was the genuine affection that flowed both from the people of MDI to the Rockefellers and from members of the Rockefeller family to those who had gathered to witness a momentous occasion.

Under the tent, standing three deep all round, were billionaires, both those with long family ties to MDI and those of the newly-minted variety, standing shoulder to shoulder with year-round residents, Rockefeller employees, local officials and people from all walks of life. Also represented were the scores of non-profit organizations and agencies supported for generations by the generosity of the Rockefeller family and others in the summer colony.

Despite the varied spectrum of life experiences, there was a single common denominator that day – the shared love of a very special place. And as noted by David MacDonald, who spoke on behalf of the Land and Garden Preserve, there was equal love and affection for the land’s owner and his family’s legacy.

In a world where people so often are defined by their differences, where economics, cultural institutions and the artifice of social standing seem designed to keep people apart, stratified and separate, there were no boundaries here – just good neighbors and friends gathered to celebrate the occasion.

All stood together on the edge of Little Long Pond, without labels, not as summer people, or year-round residents, not defined by the number of zeros in their bank accounts, but as family, united by a deep commitment to preserve what we now enjoy for the benefit of future generations.

The Rockefeller name, the family legacy, is unparalleled across the nation and around the world. A special point of pride is that so many family members’ hearts remain firmly rooted in Down East Maine. That lasting legacy has been as steadfast as the granite peaks overlooking that tranquil pond, as timeless as the open fields and enduring forest, as eternal as the rhythm of the ocean waves forever lapping at the cobblestone shore of Bracy Cove.

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