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12 November 2013
World-renowned philanthropist, Dr Pat Gorvalla, passes away

World-renowned philanthropist, Dr Pat Gorvalla, passes away

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) and its community at large mourn the death of renowned businesswoman, philanthropist and humanitarian, Dr Pat Gorvalla, who passed away on 12 November 2013.

Dr Gorvalla, a former member of the UWC Council and the UWC Gender Committee, passed away at her home, having suffered from cancer for the last couple of years.

A founding director of 11 companies and three close corporations, Dr Gorvalla was appointed to the UWC Council in June 1990 by former President FW De Klerk, and served a few terms as councillor and on a number of sub-committees until March 2012. She also served on UWC’s Membership Committee of Council, the Senior Appointments Committee of Council and the Student Appeals Committee.

UWC gratefully acknowledged her contribution, awarding her with an honorary degree (Doctor Commercii) in 1996. Gorvalla qualified as a teacher at Hewat Training College, but in 1955 began work as a taxi driver to supplement a meagre teacher's salary. Business expansion followed when she was asked to transport patients to and from Karl Bremmer Hospital. Ultimately, her transport company served hospitals as far afield as Kimberley.

As her taxi fleet expanded, so did maintenance costs, leading her to diversify her Bellville-based businesses and launch Pat's Motor Spares, Pat's Service Station, and Pat's Body Works.

In the early '60s Gorvalla began assisting Coloured families to raise collateral for mortgage bonds. She assisted victims of the Group Areas Act, prompting the launch of a Home Owner's Association and the development of a housing complex to foster community living. Her business and development expertise was internationally-acclaimed, and she was invited to speak in many countries.

Dr Gorvalla was a member of the SA-USA Committee on Trade and Development, and she accompanied former President Nelson Mandela on trade missions to the UK, Malaysia and the Philippines. Dr Gorvalla, who sat on numerous community, charity and corporate boards, is survived by three children and three grandchildren.