Dame Elisabeth Murdoch dies

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, the celebrated philanthropist and media matriarch, has died in her Melbourne home, surrounded by her family. She was 103.

Her son, News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, said his mother would be mourned by thousands of Australians who had been touched by her generosity and decades of kindness.

"We have lost the most wonderful mother but we are all grateful to have had her love and wisdom for so many years," he said in a statement released on behalf of her extended family.

"Throughout her life, our mother demonstrated the very best qualities of true public service.

"Her energy and personal commitment made our country a more hopeful place and she will be missed by many."

Her death was confirmed by News Ltd in a statement released late on Wednesday evening.

Dame Elisabeth had survived a bad fall less than three months ago in which she broke her leg and went to hospital.

"Very depressing, but hoping and praying," Rupert Murdoch had tweeted in September shortly after the fall.

She died peacefully on Wednesday night at Cruden Farm, her beloved Langwarrin garden estate set on more than 54 hectares in Melbourne's outer southeast.

Dame Elisabeth was the wife of Sir Keith Murdoch and mother to four children including Rupert Murdoch, Anne Kantor and Janet Calvert-Jones.

Her eldest daughter, Helen Handbury, died in 2004.

A patron of the arts, she had celebrated her 103rd birthday in February this year with grandson Lachlan Murdoch at a concert in her honour at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

She was a Companion of the Order of Australia, a former president of the Royal Childrens Hospital, and in 1963 was appointed a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Queen.

Dame Elisabeth had supported an estimated 100 charities annually and was beloved for her life-long commitment to helping others.

News Limited chief executive Kim Williams said the country would be mourning the loss of an extraordinary figure.

"We feel the loss intensely because she was the wife of Sir Keith Murdoch and mother of our chairman Rupert Murdoch, both towering figures in our national story and the builders of our own media heritage here at News," he told News Ltd on Thursday.

HWT board chairman Julian Clarke added: "Dame Elisabeth has been an ever-present influence in our company and will be sadly missed by the many employees who knew her personally."

Dame Elisabeth has 77 direct descendants, including 50 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the Murdoch family is asking for donations to be made to the Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

In a statement, her family said details of a memorial service would be confirmed shortly, but her funeral is expected to be a private one, despite her years of serving the public.

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