DALLAS (BP)–Longtime Southern Baptist and cosmetics magnate Mary Kay Ash died of natural causes Nov. 22 at her home in Dallas after spending several years in fragile health. She was 83.
Ash made millions of dollars and became one of the most famous women in American business as founder of Mary Kay, Inc.
“The world has lost one of its greatest champions of women and one of the most loving and inspirational business leaders,” said Ash’s son Richard Rogers, who is also co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer at Mary Kay.
The company grew from a sales force of 11 in 1963 to more than 850,000 in 37 countries as of last year, when wholesale revenue reached $1.3 billion.
Ash was a member of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. She served on several of the church’s building committees and was a faithful member of the congregation, church leaders said.
A memorial service will be held Nov. 28 at Park Cities Baptist Church, where Ash’s son is a member.
Ash’s fans said she enriched women’s lives at a time when it was difficult for them to succeed in the corporate world. Each year the convention she held in Dallas attracted thousands of saleswomen who gathered to hear, cheer and revere their founder.
With hard work, the saleswomen — and occasionally a salesman — could move through the ranks of the company to earn the prized position of national sales director. The woman holding that position now makes more than $800,000 a year.
“I want you to become the highest-paid women in America,” Ash said in her motivational speeches.
Mary Kay claims to have produced more wealthy women than any other company. Spokesman Randall Oxford said more than 150 women have made more than $1 million with the company.
Mary Kay also created an award system for employees that was specifically designed for women, offering mink coats, diamond rings and, most famously, pink Cadillacs.