The Shmooze

Remembering Cynthia Lufkin

By Masha Leon

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When I arrived at the plush Doubles club at the Fifth Avenue Sherry Netherlands for the March 2, 2010 book launch hosted by Dr. Marisa Weiss, president and founder of Breastcancer.org., I was warmly greeted by event co-host — then breast cancer survivor — Cynthia Lufkin, who in 2008 was dubbed American Cancer Society’s “Mother of the Year.”

Among the 100 guests and half dozen breast-cancer-survivor authors was Rochelle Hirsch, author of “Lumps and Bumps” a book aimed at children, Tory Burch and Cynthia’s adoring husband Dan Lufkin, founder of investment firm Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. Like all who knew her, I was devastated by the news that the 51-year-young mother of three died of complications of breast, lung and brain cancer on July 3.

Karen Leon
Dan Lufkin and Cynthia Lufkin

My Cynthia Lufkin encounters include the May 6, 2003 Safe Horizons 25th Anniversary luncheon that she chaired at the Waldorf-Astoria. Passionately she touted the Horizons’ 1000 volunteers and 80 programs that included hot lines for victims of rape or stalking as well as aid to immigrants and refugees. The March 31, 2004 “Classified Jazz—Jazz & Classical Music Together” Benefit at the Julliard Theater at which Renee Fleming and Wynton Marsalis performed which she co-chaired with Marvin Hamlisch. Cynthia Lufkin sparkled at the December 8, 2005 North American launch of Montblanc’s “Limited Edition Juilliard 100” pen launch. Limited to eight pieces worldwide, each $34,000 pen was encrusted with 668 diamonds.

Cynthia and Dan Lufkin were among the boosters at the October 19, 2006 party for The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering preview of the Haughton International Fine Art & Dealer Show at the Park Avenue Armory which raised $850,000 to support research and education on the prevention of early detection and treatment of cancer.

Fast forward to the May 26, 2010 “The 20th Anniversary of Black Alumni of Pratt” that Cynthia and her husband Dan Lufkin chaired which honored artist Peter Max (ne Finkelstein) and philanthropist Annette de La Renta (nee Manheimer) whose mother Marie Annette Reiss was the daughter of Hugo Reiss, a German-Jewish diplomat who served as Brazil’s consul in Shanghai. Lufkin — along with Somers Farkas and Alexandra Lebenthal — co-chaired the March 3, 2011 American Cancer Society Mothers of the Year Luncheon at the Plaza at which her dear friend Muffie Potter Aston was an honoree. The last time we chatted was at the March 1, 2012 American Cancer Society of New York’s Mother of the Year Award which she co-chaired. She looked glorious and was animated as she was entertained tablemate Robert De Niro whose wife Grace Hightower was the honoree.

After hearing the the news of Cynthia’s death, I reached out to Muffie Potter Aston who told me: “Losing Cynthia is a huge devastation. I am the godmom of her daughter and visa versa. She was my dearest friend and I miss her terribly.”

So will we all. Her presence illuminated every event at which she was present.


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