Happy Rockefeller, Wife of Former Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Dead at 88

Credit:  AP News

Happy and Nelson Rockefeller   Credit: AP News

Happy Rockefeller, Whose Marriage to NY Governor Scandalized Voters, Dies at 88

Happy Rockefeller died at her Tarrytown home, following a brief illness on Tuesday, at the age of 88. Her marriage to Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, soon after both had been divorced, raised a political storm at the time and may have cost him the Republican presidential nomination in 1964.

In her obituary, Bloomberg News wrote that Happy Rockefeller “enraged middle-class society by giving up custody over her four children to secure a divorce before marrying the man who became the 41st vice president.”

Happy Rockefeller gained her nickname for her cheery disposition as a child but as wife to Governor Rockefeller, she earned a reputation for being guarded and media-shy. Her husband lost three bids to secure the Republican presidential nomination. Nelson Rockefeller, the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the co-founder of Standard Oil of America and once the richest man in America, had wanted to be president since he was a boy.

In 1974, Happy was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same year that President Gerald Ford named Nelson vice president. She had two mastectomies in a span of six weeks. She, along with First Lady Betty Ford and Shirley Temple Black, were among the first to speak publicly about their breast cancer, helping to raise awareness about the disease.




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