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Ida Barksdale Crawford Stewart

Clinton, South Carolina

Ida Barksdale Crawford Stewart, a long-time vice president at The Estée Lauder Companies and a special assistant to company founder Estée Lauder, passed away peacefully on March 25, 2023, at the Clinton Presbyterian Community, where she had lived and worked on her memoir since moving from her Sutton Place apartment in New York City to return to her native South Carolina in 2019. She was 100 years old.

Ida was born December 13, 1922, in Clinton, South Carolina, to the late Roy and Fannie Mae Wade Crawford. She was a graduate of Clinton High School and Winthrop College (now University) in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Ida began her career as an elementary school art teacher in Conway, South Carolina, then taught at the Winthrop Training School (WTS) in Rock Hill. Ida left WTS to pursue a degree in education from the University of Maryland. While there, she co-authored a book, Camp Counseling, which was the definitive camping manual for many years.

She entered the business world following her graduation from the University of Maryland, joining Bristol Myers, where she promoted Ipana toothpaste through Susie Sunshine and Bucky Beaver. She next moved to Coty cosmetics and briefly worked with Eva Gabor to promote their products. In 1961, Ida joined The Estée Lauder Companies. She retired in 1990, after which she continued to work with the company for several years as a consultant.

In noting her passing, Leonard Lauder, Chairman Emeritus, The Estée Lauder Companies, said, “Ida Stewart joined The Estée Lauder Companies in the early years of our development. She became a very close associate with my mother, Mrs. Estée Lauder, and the two of them travelled together around the country to talk with our employees and to speak to the press. Ida’s charm, her presence, and her beauty, as well as her great sense of humor, endeared her to all. She will be missed by everyone she met.”

With her colorful clothing and signature hats, often adorned with an Estée Lauder lipstick tube, she was a frequent guest on daytime radio and television programs, where she would delight audiences by removing her makeup and reapplying it without a mirror. A columnist once described her as the Auntie Mame of the Cosmetics Industry.

Following her retirement from The Estée Lauder Companies, she launched her company, A Different Approach, to conduct workshops for diverse audiences, including beauty salon organizations, the North American Equipment Dealers Association, and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program.

She also expanded her volunteer activities, continuing to work at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and volunteering at the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park in New York City, as well as traveling to Haiti and Nicaragua with Habitat for Humanity. She volunteered at St. Peter’s Church and the “Meals on Heels” program at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, where she maintained her membership until her death. She was particularly proud of having completed the adult astronaut program at the U.S. Space Academy and earning her wings.

Ida was preceded in death by her parents; her sisters, Mary Crawford Gath and Dorothy Crawford Herbert; her brother, James Wade Crawford; and her husband, Robert Murray Stewart. She is survived by a number of cousins.

A funeral service will be held April 22 at 3 p.m. at Hopewell Methodist Church in Clinton, where she was baptized and maintained her membership throughout her life.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to The Ida Crawford Stewart Foundation, made payable to the National Philanthropic Trust and mailed to the Trust at 165 Township Line Road, Suite 1200, Jenkintown, PA 19046.Please include DAF ID 169648 on the check memo line.

Gray Funeral Home of Clinton is assisting with services.


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