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Community Mourns Passing of Dame Elisabeth

6 December 2012 at 9:56 am
Lina Caneva
The Australian community is mourning the passing of philanthropist and media matriarch Dame Elisabeth Murdoch who has died at the age of 103.

Lina Caneva | 6 December 2012 at 9:56 am


Community Mourns Passing of Dame Elisabeth
6 December 2012 at 9:56 am

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch has died at the age of 103.

The Australian community is mourning the passing of philanthropist and media matriarch Dame Elisabeth Murdoch who has died at the age of 103.

The mother of media baron, Rupert Murdoch, Dame Elisabeth passed away at her home, Cruden Farm, in Langwarrin in Victoria.

Best known for her extensive community work and philanthropic endeavours including the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, she is believed to have regularly supported up to one hundred charities.

She was associated with The Royal Children’s Hospital for more than 70 years, and was a major supporter of the Good Friday Appeal with her husband Sir Keith Murdoch, who was instrumental in establishing the Appeal through the Herald and Weekly Times which now raises more than $16 million each year .

The Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, described Dame Elisabeth as an inspiration saying she had devoted her life to the community.

“Her life was devoted to others. She was always unpretentious, charming and caring. She was a beacon of love and Victoria’s guardian angel.”

Dame Elisabeth was a dedicated philanthropist and recipient of many awards, including: Senior Australian of the Year for Victoria (2007); Centenary Medal (2003); Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) (1989); Woman of the Year (1977); and Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1963.

Dame Elisabeth was also a founder of Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the first woman appointed to the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria (1968) and President of the Royal Children’s Hospital from 1954 to 1965.

The CEO of the Royal Children’s Hospital Christine Kilpatrick said Dame Elisabeth was the driving force behind the establishment of the Royal Children’s Hospital at the Royal Park site in the 1960s and was a passionate supporter of the hospital’s work.

Murdoch Childrens Chairman Leigh Clifford AO said Dame Elisabeth’s vision and commitment had saved thousands of children’s lives and improved the health of many more living with rare and common childhood conditions.

“A renowned and universally admired philanthropist, Dame Elisabeth dedicated her life to helping others. In the process, she influenced and inspired people from all walks of life – from politicians and business leaders to families and children – to discover the joy of giving.

“This is evident perhaps nowhere more so than within her own family, which, led by Dame Elisabeth, has donated more than $50 million to Murdoch Childrens. Today four generations of her family are personally involved, through donating, serving on the board and development board and attending events.

“Together with founding director Professor David Danks, Dame Elisabeth is at the heart of Murdoch Childrens. She had the foresight to recognise the importance of investing in and developing genetic research, even when this field was in its infancy,” Clifford said.

“She was proud of the discoveries the Institute made in the areas of genetics, cerebral palsy, cancer, rotavirus and premature birth. Thanks to her unwavering dedication and support, children will continue to benefit from life saving medical research.

“Even beyond her 100th birthday Dame Elisabeth maintained a formidable schedule and was actively involved in an enormous number of causes spanning everything from the health and the arts to the environment and social support.

“Dame Elisabeth chose philanthropy as her driving mission in life, giving her time and support to more than 100 charities ranging across medical research to the arts and academia.

Clifford said that without Dame Elisabeth, the Institute could not have grown to become one of the world’s leading child health research institutes, with more than 1,500 researchers working towards improving the health and wellbeing of children globally.

“Dame Elisabeth’s generosity, compassion, humour and positive outlook was an inspiration to so many and we are proud to honour her legacy through our research,” Clifford said.

Dame Elisabeth leaves behind three surviving children – Rupert, Anne Kantor and Janet Calvert-Jones. Her eldest daughter, Helen Handbury, died in 2004.

When asked at her 100th birthday what the most important thing in life and the most rewarding Dame Elisabeth said: “Be optimistic – and always think of other people before yourself.”

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC, DBE will be honoured with a State Memorial Service to be held at 11am on Tuesday 18 December at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

Due to the significant public interest in this occasion, a live broadcast of the service will also take place on the screens at Federation Square.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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