Evelyn Lauder, Pink Ribbon Pioneer and Breast Cancer Advocate, Dies at 75

Lauder passed away after a battle with non-genetic ovarian cancer, but it was her work for breast cancer that changed the way we battle the disease.

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Jamie McCarthy / WireImage

Evelyn Lauder arrives to the 2011 Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Hot Pink Party on April 14, 2011 in New York City.

Evelyn Lauder died Saturday at her New York City home. She was diagnosed with non-genetic ovarian cancer in 2007, but the disease only managed to fuel her continued fight against cancer. Until her death she worked with her family’s beauty brand while promoting her cancer research and advocacy charity.

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Born in Austria, Evelyn Lauder fled Nazi-occupied Europe with her family, settling in New York City. As a Hunter College freshman she met the man that would later become her husband and business partner, Leonard Lauder. Leonard was the son of cosmetics brand namesake Estée Lauder, the company that the two would helm.

Lauder was the initial catalyst in the worldwide fight against cancer when she learned in 1989 that she had breast cancer. The Estée Lauder executive used her influence in the beauty and cosmetic world, launching the Pink Ribbon Campaign to bring awareness to breast cancer. Through a series of strategic partnerships, advertisements, celebrity promotion by Elizabeth Hurley, and a bold color choice, the pink ribbon quickly became ubiquitous. In 1993, Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which has raised more than $350 million.

But her true legacy will be displayed on collars and lapels the world over.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Breast Cancer

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