Evelyn Lauder: Breast Cancer Awareness Advocate Passes Away

[ 0 ] November 14, 2011 |

Evelyn Lauder, top executive at Estee Lauder cosmetics, dies at age 75 from ovarian cancer, but her pink ribbon movement for breast health continues

Evelyn Lauder died Saturday at her Manhattan home at the age of 75 after a heroic battle with ovarian cancer.

Lauder,  the daughter-in-law of cosmetics magnate Estee Lauder, helped create the pink ribbon symbol for breast cancer awareness after she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. She became a strong advocate in women’s health, though she was always reluctant to discuss her own condition. She later co-created the global Pink Ribbon campaign to advocate for better breast health, along with Alexandra Penney of SELF magazine. In 1993, she founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), which has raised more than $350 million to study and fight the disease. In 2000, Lauder and the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign launched its annual “Global Landmarks Illumination Initiative,” in which historic landmarks are illuminated in pink lights during the month of October to focus global attention on breast health. She also spearheaded a plethora of other breast cancer awareness and philanthropic initiatives.

“Her passionate action and determination to improve the health of women and families led her to establish BCRF. Her single-minded dedication to finding a cure for breast cancer never wavered,” BCRF said on its Web site of Lauder’s passing. “BCRF stands in tribute to her vision and will endure through the force of her commitment, which will live forever in our hearts.”

In 1999 and 2007, Lauder was featured in Crain’s New York Business magazine as one of New York’s “100 Most Influential Women in Business”, and in 2008 she was nominated to the International Best Dressed List. In 2010, Lauder received the Fashion Group International Humanitarian Award in recognition for her work with BCRF and her tireless efforts toward eradicating breast cancer.

Lauder married into the Estee Lauder family when their cosmetics company was still small. She helped grow the company into a global cosmetics powerhouse, and created the Clinique name. Today, the company has revenues of nearly $2.5 billion.

“My mother carried the torch of our company heritage and the values that were passed to her by my grandmother,” said her son, William Lauder. “My mother and father were life partners as well as business partners. They nurtured the culture and growth of the company, and as we grew, my mother was our creative compass and pillar of strength.”

A service will take place 11:30 a.m. Monday in New York City. There will be a celebration of her life at a later date to be announced.

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