6

The Billionaire and the Minister

I want to tell you about a most curious alliance. It was between John D. Rockefeller and a Baptist minister, Frederick Taylor Gates.

An early introduction grew into a friendship. Then into a binding relationship. Dr. Gates ended up investing Rockefeller's vast funds and was his most trusted business advisor. He also saved Rockefeller's life. This happened when Gates introduced him to a whole new world of philanthropy.

This is the story of how this came about. Step back in history for a moment. Roll back the years. John D. Rockefeller is in his early 50s. His body is wracked with ill health.

Rockefeller is examined by his doctor. The diagnosis is a death toll. “Mr. Rockefeller,” his doctor tells him, “your body isn't functioning properly. The prognosis is not good. I have grave doubts about your living beyond the next 12 months.

“Let's try something,” the doctor suggests. “I'm going to put you on a regimen that is quite severe, a diet of only goat's milk and soda crackers. (It was a diet he maintained the rest of his life.) And, most important, I want you to begin to spend less time making money and more time giving it away.”

Enter Frederick Taylor Gates.

It starts modestly, this new business of giving money away. The philanthropy. And the diet.

Rockefeller's health is slowly improving. Every day the wealthiest man in the world walks down the streets of New York with piles of dimes in his pockets. He gives them to children on his morning walks. ...

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