Evelyn Lauder, who helped create the pink ribbon symbol for breast cancer awareness, died yesterday. The daughter-in-law of cosmetics magnate Estee Lauder, Lauder died from complications of nongenetic ovarian cancer in her Manhattan home. She was 75.
Lauder was best known for her extensive fundraising and work on breast cancer awareness. Lauder was diagnosed with breast cancer herself in 1989, and teamed up with Alexandra Penney, the former editor-in-chief of Self magazine, to create the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer awareness in 1994. According to NBC, although the bows were first given out at Estee Lauder department store counters around the country, she soon began several major fundraising projects around the subject which led to the ribbons becoming "ubiquitous." That included congressional designation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and giving $330 million in donations—$50 million from Estee Lauder and its partners—to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which Lauder also started.
Lauder was born in Vienna, Austria, but fled Nazi-occupied Europe with her parents. She grew up on West 86th Street, attended Public School 9, and went to Hunter College, part of the City University of New York. She was the wife of Leonard A. Lauder, the chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies, whom she married in 1959. She worked for the company for more than 50 years, ascending to the position of senior corporate vice president. Besides her breast cancer awareness work, she also came up with the name of the Clinique brand during the 1960s.