Vale, Loti Smorgon AO

Lana Wilson / August 23, 2013 04:38 PM

Who’s Who of Australian Women and Who’s Who in Australia entrant Loti Smorgon has this week died, aged 94.

Loti Smorgon

Photos: The Age, Herald Sun,

One of the most iconic and celebrated philanthropists, Loti Smorgon and late husband Victor’s contributions to the Australian community have been reflected through a number of public and private health and arts institutions both in their home state of Victoria and across the nation.

As the Matriarch of one of Australia’s wealthiest families, it’s believed the Smorgon family have donated more than $4 million to the National Gallery of Victoria alone throughout their lifetime.

However it’s believed the Smorgon’s incredible generosity stemmed from a desire to give back to the Australian community after the couple migrated and settled in Melbourne during the 1930’s.

Prior to his death in 2009, Victor Smorgon explained their motivation for donating to the arts and health sectors so heavily, highlighting that “you can’t just give [a] person money... but you can give it to a community.”

“Whatever colour you are, whatever language you speak…once we get to hospital, they put a gown on you and you’re all the same, you’re all equal,” he said.

“So therefore you’re looking after a lot of people, they get use out of your generosity if you like, “

Like her husband who was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Loti was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990 and later in 2008, the couple’s legacy was celebrated on an official Australia Post Philanthropy stamp.

Loti and late husband Victor were married in 1937 at the East Melbourne Synagogue. As young parents, the couple worked hard to grow their wholesale meat business to include packing, paper and steel services.

In 2009, two years after the sale of Smorgon Steel in 2007, Victor passed away at 96 years-old, leaving Loti to carry on the philanthropic work.

Throughout the family business, Loti ensured to remain active and remained a Board Member of Victor Smorgon Group and managing to keep a relatively low public profile, aside from appearances at art gallery launches and other associated events.

Loti Smorgon AO passed away on 20 August 2013, and is survived by her four daughters, 15 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.

Her legacy will continue to live on in both the arts and health sector communities and the wider Australian community, most notably at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, The National Gallery of Victoria, Canberra’s National Gallery and the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

Who’s Who of Australian Women and Who’s Who in Australia thanks Loti Smorgon AO for her generous spirit and sense of community.

Sources: Who’s Who, The Age, BRW

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