By  on June 23, 2010

Saul H. Magram, retired general counsel of the Estée Lauder Cos., died Monday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after a brief illness, according to relatives. He was 79.

Magram joined Lauder in 1968 as secretary and corporate counsel and retired on Dec. 31, 1998, as senior vice president-general counsel.

The company and the Lauder family issued a statement praising Magram for his “unique intelligence, strategic thinking and warmth, [which] created a legacy of business success and enduring friendships during his 31 years at [the Estée Lauder Cos.]”

He was credited with playing an instrumental role in propelling the growth of the firm as a global prestige cosmetics leader, particularly in aiding Lauder’s transition into a public company in 1995.

In addition, Magram was praised for the depth of his passion in support of causes and organizations that promoted the arts, education and the environment, as well as his steadfast role in mentoring others.

After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1952 and Harvard Law School in 1955, Magram served in the Navy about the same time as company chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder, who recalled Tuesday that Magram attended officer candidate school in Newport, R.I., two months after he did.

Before joining Lauder, Magram worked at Revlon Inc. as associate counsel.

Among the professional and philanthropic organizations in which he was involved were the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet. Magram contributed to the African-American Library and Research Center in Fort Lauderdale, Brotherhood Synagogue of New York City, Broward County Libraries, Harvard University, The Holy Cross Hospital, Jewish Community Services and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

He had a large extended family of great nieces, nephews and cousins.

Lauder executives said a memorial service will be held in New York in the fall, and Magram’s family indicated that it was planning a service. Details were not immediately available.

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