LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Lieutenant Governor Win Rockefeller, the unassuming billionaire who last year abandoned a race for Arkansas governor -- a post once held by his father -- died yesterday after unsuccessful treatments for a blood disorder. He was 57.
Mr. Rockefeller died at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said Steve Brawner, the lieutenant governor's spokesman.
Two bone marrow transplants at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center failed to cure an unclassified myeloproliferative disorder. He returned to Arkansas on July 8 and immediately entered the hospital.
The next day, Mr. Rockefeller notified Governor Mike Huckabee that he could not continue his duties, at least temporarily.
"Win Rockefeller embodied 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 Association 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 Mr. Rockefeller's term, which ends in January. Senate President Jim Argue, a Democrat representing 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 estimated at $1.2 billion. As lieutenant governor, a part-time job, he donated his $34,673 state salary to charity.
Huckabee and Mr. Rockefeller, both Republicans, had an amiable relationship. The governor in 2004 appeared to brand Mr. Rockefeller as his heir apparent when he said voters should vote a GOP ticket in 2006.
``I think people will say, `It was a Republican governor who opened healthcare and the different highway programs; it was a Republican governor who pushed for increased standards in our schools,' " Huckabee said then.
But that was before former Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson entered the governor's race. With two Republicans on the ballot, Huckabee was careful not to lean either way.
Mr. Rockefeller was the son of former Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, who was elected to two-year terms in 1966 and 1968. The father died in 1973 at age 60 of cancer.
The lieutenant governor entered politics in 1996. He won a special election to complete the unexpired term of Huckabee, who became governor July 15, 1996, after Jim Guy Tucker was convicted in a fraud case as part of the Whitewater investigation.
Mr. Rockefeller won re election twice, winning 67 percent of the vote in 1998 and 60 percent in 2002. As lieutenant governor, Mr. Rockefeller presided over the state Senate and served as governor when Huckabee was out of the state.
Under the state's term-limits law, he could not serve again as lieutenant governor. He announced his candidacy for governor last year but withdrew July 19, 2005, after the blood disorder was diagnosed.
Before withdrawing, he had said he wouldn't rely on his fortune to purchase the office.
``I don't think the governor's office is there to be bought by anybody. Nobody is ordained or destined to be governor. A person has to earn the right to serve," he said in February 2005.
As lieutenant governor, he served as an economic cheerleader for the state, traveling at his own expense to seek foreign investments here.
After his father's death, Mr. Rockefeller bought Winrock Farms Inc., founded by his father in 1953, and became involved in banking, retailing, automobile dealerships, and resorts.
He was a member of the Arkansas State Police Commission from 1981 to 1995 and was chairman of the President's Council on Rural America after his appointment to the council in 1991 by the first President Bush.
Mr. Rockefeller supported literacy councils and in 1997 created the Books in the Attic program, in which Boy Scouts collect used books to distribute to families. With two children with Down syndrome, Mr. Rockefeller and his second wife, Lisenne, started what is now the Academy at Riverdale, a school for children with learning disabilities.
Mr. Rockefeller also founded The Billfish Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting marlins, swordfish, and other billfish. As a National Rifle Association member, he sponsored Project ChildSafe to distribute free trigger locks in the state.
He also served on the Boy Scouts' national board of directors and was president of the Scouts' local Quapaw Area Council. He was on the national boards of Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy, and on the boards of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center and the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation.
``Win could have lived anywhere and done anything, but he chose to give himself to the state both as a public servant and as a philanthropist," said Senate President Argue.
Born Sept. 17, 1948, in New York, Mr. Rockefeller was the only child of Winthrop Rockefeller and Barbara ``Bobo" Sears, the daughter of an immigrant Lithuanian coal miner. An uncle was former vice president Nelson Rockefeller, and current Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, is a cousin.
Mr. Rockefeller attended Pembroke College at the University of Oxford and graduated from the ranch management program at Texas Christian University.
In addition to his second wife and his mother, Mr. Rockefeller leaves three daughters, five sons, a granddaughter, a step-brother and a step-sister.