Shirley Lowy passes away

December 13, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Lady Shirley Lowy passed away in Israel last Wednesday at the age of 86.

Shirley and Frank Lowy

The family issued the following statement:  “It is with deepest sorrow that we confirm the passing of Shirley Lowy, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother-in-law and great grandmother.

“She passed away peacefully at the age of 86, in Tel Aviv, comforted in her last days by her husband, Frank, and her closest family including sons David, Peter and Steven.
“Her loss to us is immense and will be deeply felt forever. While she never sought a role in our family’s involvement in corporate life, she provided the secure base on which it was built. She kept us conscious of the most important things in life.
“We will always honour her memory and take some small comfort in the fact that the good she did touched thousands of lives.”

Born in Sydney to immigrant parents, her father from Poland and her mother from the UK, Shirley (nee Rusanow) spent her early years in Bondi before the family moved north so she could recover from a bout of rheumatic fever.

In 1952, after meeting Frank at a Chanukah party in Sydney, she told her best friend she was going to marry him or nobody.

He was a sandwich-hand and during their brief courtship, Shirley’s mother had her doubts. “What’s this immigrant boy ever going to amount to?” she asked.

Frank Lowy’s ambition and ‘chutzpah’ mesmerized her and by 1954 they were married.

As their three sons David, Peter and Steven, grew so did their business and their prosperity.

For the four males, Shirley was the family’s centre of gravity.  Once her sons had grown up, she went to university to do an arts degree, but was always home before any of the men, to ensure domestic life was undisturbed and dinner was organised. While some of her friends worked and had careers, for Shirley family took priority.

She would happily forgo glamourous events, with the grandees of the day, to be with the family. That’s where she was happiest. And it was from this stable foundation that Frank was able to build Westfield, the business that his sons would join.

Frank travelled extensively, for weeks at a time, knowing whenever he returned, she’d be awake and waiting for him.

When an elderly aunt left her a small inheritance, Frank doubled it and Shirley used the money to establish The Chai Foundation. Its mission was to help Jewish families that had slipped through the cracks in the welfare system.

In the name of her parents, she offered to establish a scholarship at Moriah College.

Every year, she wanted to award a child a full scholarship to cover 13 years of their schooling. The school was thrilled and said it would be perfect for gifted children. “Wait a moment, “Shirley said. “There are plenty of opportunities for the gifted. I want this for ordinary students.”

She established houses in Israel for children from troubled families and, as long as she was able, she took an active interest in their welfare, visiting and remembering their birthdays.

At a celebration to mark her 80th birthday in 2014, she felt frail and talked about the centrality of family and about aging.

After 60 years of marriage, she told Frank: “We don’t know what the future holds, but we are going into it together, holding hands.”

As her memory progressively weakened, that’s what they did. They also made Aliyah together. As a young woman, Shirley had very much wanted to do this but her parents were not keen for her to go.

When Frank was knighted in 2017, Shirley was with him in London but was too weak to attend the ceremony. By that stage, she could not comprehend that she was now Lady Lowy.

She is survived by Sir Frank, David, Peter, Steven, Margo and Judy Lowy, their 11 grandchildren, their partners and seven great-grandchildren.

Lady Shirley Lowy:  born April 5, 1934, Sydney, Australia.  Died December 9, 2020, Tel Aviv, Israel



One Response to “Shirley Lowy passes away”
  1. Berolsky Adrian says:

    Dear Lady Shirley Lowy Z’L, always with us.
    Love from Bs.As.

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