Wednesday, December 5, 2012 saw the loss of a great philanthropist and woman, Lady Elisabeth Murdoch. She is the mother of Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., and was the head of the world’s most prominent media family. But she was also a philanthropist in her life, spreading good throughout her community and the world.
Born in 1909 in Melbourne, Australia, Elisabeth Murdoch (nee Greene) was 103 when she passed away. Even as a young woman, she volunteered to knit clothes for babies in a nearby hospital, helping those who couldn’t help themselves. When she was 18, she met and later married 42-year-old Keith Murdoch, with whom she had four children.
She became Lady Murdoch in 1933 when her husband was knighted. Sir Murdoch was a journalist turned chief editor for the Melbourne Herlad, which later took over several other newspapers. But he died in 1952, and Lady Murdoch never remarried.
Though she sold a few of the family’s media holdings, her son Rupert, then just 21, took over the Adelaide News. Today the paper brings in about $33 billion a year and is mother to the Wall Street Journal, Times of London, and Fox News Channel.
Lady Elisabeth Murdoch, meanwhile, continued to be involved in her community as a philanthropist for over fifty years. A lover of the arts, she donated generously to organizations such as the Australian ballet. She also contributed to mental health organizations and children’s health causes.
She survived her firstborn child as well as her husband. Helen Murdoch Hanbury preceded her mother in death in 2004. Her other three children, Rupert, Anne, and Janet, still live on—along with about 77 other direct descendants.