Women Who Left a Legacy

The University of Adelaide acknowledges that information relating to the personal details of donors has been accessed/obtained predominantly from public sources including the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the Encyclopaedia of Australian Science, the Australian Law Library, The Register, The Advertiser, the University of Adelaide Library, the University of Adelaide ‘Impact’, the University of Adelaide ‘Adelaidean’ and the University of Adelaide ‘Lumen’.


Decie Denholm

Decie Denholm

Decie Denholm

Transforming students' lives

Alumna, Mrs Decie Denholm (MA 1968), was a University employee for 22 years and a Visiting Research Fellow.  In 2011, on the death of her husband Lawrence, Decie endowed a supplementary scholarship for students of European History called the LF and D Denholm Scholarship in History, in memory of her late husband and the life they made together.  Decie and Lawrence were great music enthusiasts and took immense pleasure in attending concerts at the Elder Conservatorium of Music.

On her death in 2018, Decie bequeathed approximately $2.36M to the University to establish three funds – the Music Scholarship Fund, the Music Residency Fund, and the History Scholarship Fund. 

From Decie's bequest, the University established scholarships in music and postgraduate scholarships in history as well as the Elder Conservatorium Master Musicians/Internships Endowment Fund. 

Decie was a long-term and generous benefactor to the University and now her legacy will live on for students of music and history, fields that Decie and Lawrence were passionate about. 

Read more: How gifts in Wills transform students' lives

Dame Roma Mitchell

Dame Roma Mitchell

Dame Roma Mitchell

A Legal Pioneer

Dame Roma Mitchell was destined to become one of Australia's most accomplished lawyers the day she set foot on the University of Adelaide campus. She excelled in her law studies, completing her course in four years instead of five and graduating in 1934 with the David Murray Scholarship Award for the most brilliant student.

Dame Roma was a woman of many firsts: the first female Queen’s Counsel, Supreme Court Judge and Governor of South Australia. She was also the first Chairperson of a Human Rights Commission in Australia and nearly 50 years after graduating from the University of Adelaide, she returned as Chancellor, adding ‘first female Chancellor in Australia’ to her list of accomplishments.

When Dame Roma died in 2000 she left a generous bequest to the University.  The University established the Dame Roma Mitchell Chair of Law in her honour.

Read more: Lumen Winter 2014 Issue

Doris West and her husband Arnold

Doris West and her husband Arnold

Doris West

A Legacy of Support for Women and Music

Mrs Doris West graduated from the University of Adelaide with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1921. She was particularly concerned with the interests of women graduates, both nationally and internationally. She was a keen music lover and frequently attended Elder Hall concerts.

When Doris died in 1990, she left a bequest of approximately $750,000 to the University.

Doris' legacy enabled the establishment of the "Doris West Postgraduate Scholarships for Women", which provides opportunities to high-achieving female students across all disciplines at the University.

Doris' legacy also supports the Elder Hall Lunchtime Concert series, keeping admission prices for the concerts to a minimum and maintaining the extraordinary quality of artists and concerts. The popularity and prestige of this series plays a vital role in representing the University of Adelaide to the wider community.

Read more:  Lumen Winter 2016 Issue


Veronika Sacco

Veronika Sacco

Veronika Sacco

A Life Changing Legacy

Veronika Sacco's life story was a remarkable one. Despite excelling at school in her native country and mastering seven languages, Veronika's early days in Australia were character-building, to say the least. Newly divorced and with a young child to support, she was forced to walk the streets of western Sydney lugging suitcases of soap which she sold door to door.

Through sheer will, intelligence and a head for finances, Veronika put herself through university and gained an accountancy qualification, which paved the way for a stimulating career and opened many other doors - to culture, music, art and business.

Veronika died in 2010, aged 94.

Education changed Veronika's life. In death, her legacy is making a difference to countless others.

Veronika's will left a generous sum to the Florey Medical Research Foundation, in honour of the University of Adelaide's most famous alumnus - Howard Florey.

Read more:  Lumen Winter 2013 Issue

Kerstin Lillemor Andersen

Kerstin Lillemor Andersen

Kerstin Lillemor Andersen

A life of books, music and travel

Kerstin Lillemor Andersen had a long affiliation with the University of Adelaide – first as a graduate earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1934, then as an employee of Barr Smith Library for over 40 years.

Known as "Miss Andersen" in the library and Lillemor to her friends, she was remembered by some as a stern staff member but by others as a lifelong, faithful and adventurous friend.

Lillemor was also extremely generous and left half of her estate to the Barr Smith Library and the Elder Conservatorium – ensuring others would continue to enjoy the things she had been most passionate about during her life. Her bequest enabled the purchase of numerous reference works in art and architecture and supports orchestral concerts at the Elder Conservatorium.

Read more:  Lumen Summer 2016 Issue

Audrey Abbie

Audrey Abbie

Audrey Abbie

A Legacy of Support for Students of Veterinary Science

When Audrey Abbie heard that a Veterinary School was to be opened on the University's Roseworthy Campus - giving South Australian students the chance to study Veterinary Science without moving interstate for the first time - she was keen to provide financial support.

In 2008, Audrey made a substantial gift to create a prize for the Dux of the Veterinary School, giving one lucky student each year a helping hand as they begin their career. The Prize was first awarded in 2010, and will be supported by Audrey's generous gift in perpetuity.

In 2000, Audrey also donated funds to the University to establish an undergraduate scholarship for Indigenous students undertaking the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, in memory of her husband, the late Emeritus Professor Andrew Arthur Abbie, Elder Professor of Anatomy and Histology at the University of Adelaide from 1945 to 1970.

Read more: Lumen Summer 2008 Issue

Ruby Davy

Dr Ruby Davy

Dr Ruby Davy

Australia's First Female Doctor of Music

When Ruby died in 1954, she left a bequest of £300 to the University to found a prize for the composition of music (UTR1.56).  The residual funds of her estate were used to buy the complete works of Beethoven and Mozart for the Conservatorium Library.

Born in Salisbury in 1883, Ruby Davy was a shy child, who demonstrated early musical prodigy and went on to become Australia's first woman Doctor of Music. By the age of 13, Ruby was already teaching 27 of her own pupils at her mother's Salisbury School of Music.

Ruby began studying at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in 1904 at the age of 20, gaining in the same year the University's Associate of Music.

Ruby was the first Conservatorium student to take composition as a principal subject. Ruby graduated in 1907 and continued to teach music at the Salisbury School of Music and from a studio at Allan's Music Shop in Rundle Street, in addition to performing and accompanying other artists.

Read more: Lumen Winter 2006 Issue
Stories from Archives and Special Collections

Ellen Milne Bundey

Ellen Milne Bundey
Photo courtesy of University Archives

Ellen Milne Bundey

Encouraging poetry and research in botany or forestry

In 1912, Ellen Milne Bundey, Mus.Bac. donated £200 for the purpose of founding a prize in memory of her parents, the late Sir Henry and Lady Bundey.  Sir William Henry Bundey (1838-1909), lawyer, arrived in South Australia in 1848. He was admitted as a practitioner to the Supreme Court in 1865.  He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1878 and in 1888 acted as deputy-governor for twelve days.  In 1871 Bundey was elected to the House of Assembly for the Onkaparinga district.  From July 1874 to May 1875 he served in Blyth's government as the first minister of justice and education and he was in charge of the bill to establish the University of Adelaide.  In 1884 he accepted appointment as the third judge in the Supreme Court of South Australia and he retained office until his retirement in 1903.  Bundey was knighted in 1904.

Upon her death in 1919, Ellen bequeathed the sum of £1,236 to the University to found a scholarship or scholarships for the encouragement of original research in botany or forestry to be called “The Ernest Ayers Scholarships” to perpetuate the memory of Arthur Ernest Ayers and his wife Barbara Angus Ayers.

The Bundey Prize for English Verse is awarded annually for the best poem or group of poems.

The Ernest Ayers Scholarship is awarded annually to a candidate who is undertaking research in botany for the Honours degree in the Faculty of Sciences. 

Ellen was of a decidedly cultured turn of mind and wrote verse rather extensively.   She had several books published under the pen name "Lyell Dunne".  She was also interested in political subjects and was a Bachelor of Music of the University in 1900.


Dorothy Elizabeth Mortlock

Dorothy Elizabeth Mortlock photographed shortly after her marriage to John Andrew Tennant Mortlock
Photo courtesy of State Library of South Australia
SLSA [B 68335]

Dorothy Mortlock

A generous philanthropist

In 1954, Dorothy Mortlock donated £1200 under a Deed of Trust to establish a scholarship for the promotion and encouragement of agricultural education at Roseworthy Agricultural College and at Urrbrae Agricultural High School. 

In 1991 the Roseworthy Agricultural College merged with the University of Adelaide and is now known as the University's Roseworthy Campus.

The Scholarship now supports students from Urrbrae Agricultural High School commencing the Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences program of study at the University of Adelaide.  The Scholarship is valued at $5,000 per year for the duration of their degree.

Dorothy Mortlock was a philanthropist and wife of John Andrew Tennant Mortlock.  Both were generous benefactors to the University and to the South Australian community.
Two years after her husband’s death, Dorothy donated £15,000 to the University to support research at Yudnapinna Station and later donated Martindale Hall and 100 surrounding hectares at Mintaro to the University for general use and about 300 hectares (at Yudnapinna) for research, to be managed by the Waite Institute.

Further reading:  John Andrew Tennant Mortlock


Margaret Davey

Margaret Davey

Margaret Davey

A legacy to support research in obstetrics and gynaecology

A generous bequest from an Adelaide family with a distinguished reputation in obstetrics is helping to give children a healthy start to life.

When Margaret Davey passed away in 2010 at the age of 95, she remembered several charities and community organisations in her will including the University of Adelaide.  Margaret's will directed the University to establish a fund to be known as "The Llewellin and Margaret Davey Trust Fund" to be invested and the income to be used towards medical research in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology.

The University established the Llewellin and Margaret Davey Bequest Travel/Skills Competency Award in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Margaret Davey was the daughter of Dr Llewellin Davey and his wife, Doris Peacock.  Dr Davey was a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist for over 20 years and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London. In his 96th year, he was appointed as a Foundation Member of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists when the Australian College was formed.

Margaret was educated at East Adelaide Primary School, Poltoonga (in St Peters) and Girton School for Girls.  She studied zoology and botany at the University where she later worked for 21 years as a part-time demonstrator.  She received a life honour from the University's Alumni Association. 

Margaret was a great leader and served many women's organisations.  President of the Adelaide YMCA and treasurer for 15 years, she later served the YWCA at the national and international levels, her contribution recognised with an MBE in 1963.  Her role with the National Council of Women began as a delegate from the Wanslea Children's Home.  She was president of NCW of SA, and then national president and was responsible for the Ruth Gibson CBE Memorial Award and for placing a bronze sundial commemorating Gibson's work on the Festival Centre plaza.  She also established a fund to support women attending NCW international conferences.

Margaret was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1981, in recognition of her commitment to improving the status of women.

Further reading: University of Adelaide Magazine Lumen Summer 2012 Edition
Dr Laurence Llewellin (Llewellin) Davey (1889-1986)



For more information

Jackie Morris
Senior Trusts Officer
08 8313 5804