SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Victor Smorgon, one of the elder statesmen of Australian Jewry, has died.
The patriarch of Australia’s wealthiest family, according to BRW magazine’s 2009 rich list, Smorgon died July 3. He was 96.
Smorgon was a major philanthropist to the Jewish community, Israel, cancer research and the arts.
In 2007 he was honored with the highest award Australia confers on its citizens, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for his services to the arts and as a benefactor.
“He was always highly grateful to Australia for the opportunities this country afforded him and gave generously to hospitals, schools and the arts, particularly in Victoria,” a statement from the family said. “A great Australian industrialist and a true family man, Victor is profoundly missed by his large family.”
Born in 1913 in Russia, Smorgon’s father was a kosher butcher who, like many Jews, was forced out by anti-Semitism in 1927.
In Australia he opened up another butcher shop, the small seed from which the Smorgon empire expanded into the steel, paper and property industries.
Asked the secret of his success, Smorgon famously replied, “If you can make sausages, you can make anything.”
He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Loti; three daughters; 15 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.