By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang expressed sadness over the passing of Elizabeth Gokongwei, the wife of JG Summit Holdings, Inc., founder John Gokongwei, on Saturday, exactly a week after the family patriarch passed away. She was 85.
In a statement Sunday, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo extended the Palace’s condolences to the Gokongwei family.
“We express our deep condolences to – and relay our commiseration with – the family, particularly her children, Robina, Lance, Lisa, Faith, Hope, and Marcia, friends, colleagues, employees, and loved ones, Mrs. Elizabeth left behind. May the perpetual light shine upon her, and may her soul, through the mercy of God, rest in eternal peace,” he said.
Panelo, referring to a quote by John Gokongwei, added that Elizabeth, John’s wife of 61 years, became the tycoon’s “ally in happiness and not a source of misery.”
“The Gokongwei matriarch was the other half who helped in realizing the vision and dream of one of the greatest business leaders of our time. She fully supported the conviction of the businessman who dared,” he said.
She was the founding member of the Robinsons Department Store and headed its Merchandising Department from 1980 to 1992.
Like John, Elizabeth was known for her philanthropy, being a member of the Board of Trustees of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation. She was, in the words of her only son Lance, “the heart and soul of the Gokongwei family.”
Describing his mother, the Gokongwei heir described Elizabeth as a source of positivity.
“She was an optimist. She always had a smile on her face, and looked at the brighter side of life. She was the best kind of mother and wife and will be dearly missed. We are comforted knowing that my Mom and Dad are together again, watching over us from above,” Lance said.
In his book, “Lessons from Dad,” Lance wrote how his mother always reminded them to be themselves.
“Don’t compare yourselves to others, because someone will always be smarter than you. Someone will always be [better] looking or richer. So just go out there and be yourselves,” he said.
Robina, the eldest Gokongwei daughter, said: “She would always think about her family before she would think about herself.”
Elizabeth Gokongwei went to St. Stephen’s High School and graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio with a degree in Medical Technology.
The tycoon and his wife are survived by their six children. Elizabeth’s wake will be held in private.
JG Summit Holdings has interests in retail, food and beverage, transportation, real estate, and banking, among others.
READ MORE: Mrs. Elizabeth Gokongwei, 85