In Memorium: Evelyn Lauder

Evelyn Lauder, breast cancer awareness pioneer passed away at age 75.

In Memorium: Evelyn Lauder

Evelyn Lauder, breast cancer awareness pioneer passed away at age 75.

-PJ Gach

 estee lauder

You know those ubiquitous pink ribbons that we see every October? Evelyn Lauder thought those up. Back in 1992, Evelyn, her husband and her friend, editor Alexandra Penney thought the ribbons would be a clever way to remind women to get a breast exam. One thing led to another, and Evelyn Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993. Since then, $350 million dollars have been raised for research. Evelyn got congress to designate October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She helped millions of women she never met.

This past September, she released this message:

“This October we will celebrate our 19th year in the fight against breast cancer. Since 1992, when I launched The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign and co-created the Pink Ribbon with SELF Magazine, The BCA Campaign has grown far beyond our expectations, educating many millions of people globally with the lifesaving awareness message about the importance of breast health and that early detection saves lives.

“In 2010, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer (Stages I-IV) were diagnosed among women in the United States, with 39,840 deaths.1 The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2008 that breast cancer was one of the top five cancer-related deaths worldwide. The good news is that today, more and more women and men now understand that knowledge is power and therefore, the fear that once surrounded breast cancer is diminishing. Today we are making more progress than ever and reaching millions more people each year with the message that if localized breast cancer is detected early, 90% of women survive more than 5 years. While the ACS estimates that the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is one in eight, mortality rates continue to fall. We believe this is due in part to early detection and greater awareness of the importance of breast health.” To read the message in its entirety, please click here.

Evelyn Lauder was born Evelyn Hausner in Vienna, Austria. She and her family fled to America steps before the Nazi occupation. She enrolled in Hunter College and met her future husband, Leonard Lauder, on a blind date. After graduation, she taught school in Harlem. Then she joined the family firm, Estée Lauder, and started working on the company training program. She rose in the company’s ranks and Evelyn became New Product Director and Marketing Director. Among her many accomplishments were the naming of one of Estée Lauder’s biggest selling lines, Clinique, and using a lab coat as its special marketing tool/identity. Evelyn also worked on the launches for Happy, Pleasures, and Aramis.

Evelyn was married to Leonard Lauder for 52 years. In 2007, she was diagnosed with non-genetic ovarian cancer. She continued to work, make personal appearances and raise money for the past few years. She died at home from non-genetic ovarian cancer Saturday. She is survived by her husband, Leonard, now chairman emeritus, her son William, executive chairman of Estee Lauder, Gary Lauder, managing director of Lauder Partners LLC, daughter-in-law Laura Lauder, general partner of Lauder Partners, and five grandchildren.

Her son William released a statement to WWD:

“My mother carried the torch of our company heritage and the values that were passed to her by my grandmother, Mrs. Estée Lauder,” said William Lauder, executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Cos. “My mother and father were life partners as well as business partners. They nurtured the culture and growth of the Estée Lauder Cos., and as we grew, my mother was our creative compass and pillar of strength. Together my family and the company celebrate the beautiful person she was.”

PJ Gach is Senior Editor: Style + Beauty at BettyConfidential.

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