Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer dies at 50


Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer dies at 50

Kyle Cowan And Kgaugelo Masweneng | 2017-05-18 14:43:58.0

Jennifer & Jonathan Oppenheimer

Image by: Instagram/africabillionaires

Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer‚ wife of South Africa’s billionaire mining scion Jonathan Oppenheimer‚ died on Tuesday at the age of 50.

Ward Oppenheimer‚ a Harvard trained lawyer and Fulbright Scholar‚ was well known for her African philanthropic efforts and was a joint founder of the Brenthurst Foundation‚ which brings together the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners to promote the continent’s economic growth and development.

She was also involved in supporting the Centre for African Studies at her alma mater‚ Harvard University‚ from which she had graduated magna cum laude. The family had also recently endowed a chair at Cambridge to teach the deep history of Africa to mark her 50th year.

According to the obituary notice‚ there will be a private funeral service in the UK on Saturday‚ May 20 ‚ with details of a South African memorial service to be released later.

“The family thank everyone for their support at this difficult time‚” it read. In a statement issued to TimesLIVE on Thursday‚ De Beers said the company was mourning the tragic loss.

“Jennifer was a vibrant force for good and as a former chairperson of the De Beers Fund‚ she inspired us and touched the lives of thousands of people.

“The hearts of everyone at De Beers are with her adoring husband Jonathan and their beautiful children Samuel‚ Isabel and Nathaniel‚” the statement read.

“I remember her as a bubbly‚ vibrant and passionate person who was very involved in the work she wanted to contribute to the country‚” said Shelagh Gastrow‚ a founder and director of Gastrow Bloch Philanthropies and former executive director Inyathelo‚ to which Ward Oppenheimer and her husband were generous donors.

Gastrow said Ward Oppenheimer was especially passionate about funding projects in “higher education‚ social development‚ and entrepreneurship”.

Andrea Leenen‚ chief executive of Paleontological Scientific Trust remembered Ward Oppenheimer as a woman who strove for excellence and always inspired her to be a “courageous” leader.

“Jennifer’s passing is a great shock to me and my heart goes out to her family as we have also lost. Our relationship goes back as far as two decades. She has always been a strong character. Her legacy is in the manner in which she showed passion for the country‚ her feistiness‚ energy and her bright mind. A straightforward woman who was well read and invested her expertise in influencing the organisation for the better‚“ said Leenen

She is remembered for passion for and focus on preserving African heritage.

“I remember how excited she was about a project we were working on at the beginning of the year called AllFor1. Her passion and dedication was especially inspiring for me. She and her family are champions of change and we appreciate their contributions‚” added Leenen

Leenen called her a “woman of substance” who led her and guided her on being fierce in the boardroom without being intimidated by men.

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