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Wits mourns the passing of Sir Donald Gordon

- Wits University

Statement from Wits University on the passing of Sir Donald Gordon.

The University of the Witwatersrand mourns the passing of Sir Donald Gordon, a successful businessman, a global philanthropist, a Wits alumnus, and one of South Africa’s most distinguished leaders.

A chartered accountant by profession, Sir Donald founded Liberty Life in 1957 and Liberty International PLC in 1980. He was awarded an honorary degree in Economic Science, the University’s highest honour in 1991 for his contribution to the University and to society.

Sir Donald has left an extraordinary legacy in his wake, and his generosity and that of his family, continues to positively impact on the lives of South Africans, and on members of the Wits community in particular.

One of the University’s largest benefactors, Sir Donald and his family donated R120 million to establish the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Parktown -  South Africa’s first private teaching hospital, which delivers world-class patient care and advances specialist training and research. Through the generosity of Sir Donald and his family, Wits was able to purchase the Kenridge Hospital in 2002, with Mediclinic joining as a shareholder later in 2005.

In 1993, Sir Donald also opened the Donald Gordon Auditorium located in the Donald Gordon Building on the Wits Management Campus in Parktown. The auditorium and building are named in honour of Sir Donald for his generous contribution to building world-class facilities to accommodate and train members of the public service administration, many of whom were returning from exile as apartheid was dismantling.

Sir Donald was the brainchild behind the development of Sandton City, one of the most successful shopping centres in the world. He was also a director of the Guardian Royal Exchange Group for 24 years and chaired their South African subsidiary, the Guardian National Insurance Company.

In June 2005, Sir Donald was knighted in recognition of his services to the arts and business. The Grand Tier at the Royal Opera House as well as the main auditorium of the Wales Millennium Centre are named after him. These are just a fraction of his many accomplishments and contributions to society.

Sir Donald was a global visionary leader who has left an indelible mark on society. His legacy is seen, felt and lived in our midst every day and will continue to inspire members of the Wits community for decades to come. We commiserate with Sir Donald’s family and friends, and those who knew him well but we know that you are comforted knowing that he has lived a life for which many will strive, but that only a special few will emulate. Please accept our deepest sympathies during this difficult period. May his soul rest in peace.