Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. executive Melissa Bedolis Cattanach, a former editor at WWD, died Monday of complications from cancer. She was 46.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Cattanach, a graduate of Hamilton College, began her journalism career in 1986 as an assistant to the managing editor for Harper’s Bazaar. She then joined Mademoiselle magazine as a senior editorial copywriter, staying until 1992, when she joined Fairchild Publications as WWD’s special sections editor.
“Melissa was a creative, tenacious, disciplined editor who never buckled under the most intense pressure,” said Edward Nardoza, editor in chief of WWD. “She brought wit and purpose to the newsroom every day and was instrumental in upgrading the editorial quality of all WWD’s numerous special editions.
“Her talent took her to the editorship of Salon News magazine, where she brought a keen eye for graphic sophistication and a wonderful intuition for what makes an interesting story,” he said. “We tried to hire Melissa back more than once, but to our ongoing regret she had taken her career on a new path in corporate communications. All of her friends and former colleagues at WWD will miss her and extend our deepest sympathies to her family.”
Cattanach’s writing, editing and organizational skills at WWD led to her appointment as editor in chief of Salon News in 1994. In that role, Cattanach traveled extensively for the magazine, often editing pages and writing copy from hotel rooms. She drove the publication to record page counts and industry recognition.
“I will never forget how Melissa took me under her wing,” said Lynette Harrison Brubaker, group publisher of the Style Collection (which includes In Style) at Time Inc., who was editor in chief at Salon News while Cattanach was at WWD. When Brubaker became associate publisher at W, Cattanach took over as Salon News’ editor in chief. “She was my rock, my sounding board and truly a mentor. She helped me become a better reporter. And when I left that post, I felt so good that it was Melissa taking that role on.”
Cattanach left Salon News in 1999 to become a creative director for Redken, a division of L’Oréal USA, and in 2000, she joined the Estée Lauder Cos. as vice president of global communications for Aveda, a post she held until moving to Lauder’s corporate communications department as a vice president of global communications in 2002.
“Melissa had been an integral part of global communications since 2000, when she joined the Estée Lauder Cos. to work on Aveda,” said William P. Lauder, chief executive officer, adding that the company is setting up a college fund for Cattanach’s son. “We will deeply miss her unending enthusiasm, her can-do attitude and most of all, her kindness.”
Her “love of reporting was clearly evident in our corporate Intranet,” said Janet Bartucci, vice president of corporate communications, to whom Cattanach reported at Lauder. “She was a driving force in keeping it refreshed and up-to-date and loved nothing more than a good lead. For many years, Melissa was also a key part of our Breast Cancer Awareness program, lending her professionalism and creativity to the press materials. For all who knew Melissa, it was clear that she adored her family and her career and brought a joie de vivre to everything she did.”
Cattanach is survived by her husband, Evan Cattanach; their son, Robert, and her brother, John Bedolis.
A service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. It will be followed by a ceremony at the Ferncliff Crematory in Hartsdale and a reception at a restaurant in Mount Kisco called The Flying Pig on Lexington.