Dr. Richard Rockefeller, Founding Member of Doctors Without Borders USA, Dies in Plane Crash


NEW YORK—June 13, 2014—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Richard Rockefeller, Ed.M., M.D., who was killed today when the single-engine plane that he was piloting crashed outside of Westchester County Airport, and extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to his family.

Through his vast philanthropic network, passionate public speaking on the right for access to medicines, and field assignments in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, Dr. Rockefeller was instrumental to the founding of MSF in the United States. In 1989, working with his father David Rockefeller, Dr. Rockefeller helped MSF establish its roots in the United States by hosting a small start-up team at 30 Rockefeller Center, inside the offices of Rockefeller & Co.

“Richard gave so much of his life to support Doctors Without Borders,” said Dr. Deane Marchbein, MD, president of MSF-USA. “He made so many vital contributions that have helped Doctors Without Borders provide independent medical humanitarian assistance to millions of patients in over 70 countries. The entire Doctors Without Borders family extends its profound condolences to Richard’s family. We are devastated by his loss.”

Dr. Rockefeller served as chair of the Board of Advisors of MSF-USA for 21 years, leveraging his credibility within the philanthropic community to garner the financial support that was so critical to ensuring MSF’s continued financial independence, which has been crucial to guaranteeing the organization’s operational independence in the field. While leading this advisory committee and visiting MSF programs abroad, including those in Cambodia, Malawi, Niger, Thailand, and Cambodia, Dr. Rockefeller also worked as a field doctor in Peru and in northern Nigeria while a massive meningitis outbreak struck the country in 2009.

While Dr. Rockefeller stepped down as chair of the Board of Advisors in 2010, he remained an honorary member and trusted advisor of MSF-USA.

“Richard was so committed to the principles of Doctors Without Borders – the belief that everyone had the right to access medical care regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity, income level, or any other consideration,” said Victoria Bjorklund, Esq, a retired partner at Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP and another one of the founding volunteers who helped establish MSF-USA’s non-profit status. “He was absolutely critical to sharing those principles with a wide array of supporters at a time when the organization was not well known in the US. He will be sorely missed.”

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care.MSF works in more than 70 countries around the world.