Evelyn Lauder, an impressive businesswoman and a fierce champion of breast cancer research, died yesterday at age 75 from ovarian cancer.
She was born in Vienna in 1936, and after fleeing Nazi occupation, her family eventually landed in New York. In college, she met and married Leonard Lauder, the son of cosmetics powerhouse Estée Lauder. Ms. Lauder joined the family company and proved skillful at handling her scary-sounding mother-in-law. (Evelyn once came home to find that Estée had rearranged the furniture in the couple's living room to be more in line with her taste! Can you imagine?) She eventually rose to become the senior corporate vice president and head of fragrance development worldwide.
In 1989 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and that experience led her to become a determined advocate for women's health. She co-created the original pink ribbon symbol, which has now become an internationally-recognized icon of breast cancer awareness, appearing on everything from t-shirts to kitchen appliances to post-it notes. In addition, she founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993 which has raised more than 350 million dollars. Ms. Lauder had been fighting ovarian cancer, which is thought to be unrelated to her previous breast cancer, since 2007.