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Anita Roddick Obituary


LONDON (AP) - The Body Shop cosmetics store founder Anita Roddick died Monday night after suffering a major brain hemorrhage, her family said. She was 64.

Roddick was dubbed the "Queen of Green" for her trailblazing environmentally-friendly, humane business practices that made her a leader in her native England and around the world.

"Businesses have the power to do good," Roddick wrote on the company's Web site.

Roddick opened her first Body Shop store in 1976 in Brighton, southern England, before fair trade and eco-friendly businesses were fashionable.

The store stores has grown into a global phenomenon with nearly 2,000 stores in 50 countries. The Body Shop became part of the French company L'Oreal Group last year, but remains independently run.

The business woman died at 6:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) at a hospital in Chichester, southern England, surrounded by her husband, Gordon, and daughters Sam and Justine, the family said in a statement.

Roddick said in February that she had contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion while giving birth to Sam in 1971. She made the announcement after she was named head of Britain's Hepatitis C Trust charity.

In recognition of her contribution to business and charity, Queen Elizabeth II made Roddick a dame, the female equivalent of knighthood, in 2003.

Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven called Roddick an "incredible woman" who would be "sorely missed."

"She was so ahead of her time when it came to issues of how business could be done in different ways, not just profit motivated but taking into account environmental issues," Sauven said.

"When you look at it today, and how every company claims to be green, she was living this decades ago," he said.

Roddick, the daughter of Italian immigrants, said she opened her Brighton store with only modest hopes.

"I started The Body Shop simply to create a livelihood for myself and my two daughters while my husband, Gordon, was trekking across the Americas," Roddick wrote.

"I had no training or experience and my only business acumen was Gordon's advice to take sales of 300 pounds a week," she said.

Roddick and her husband stepped down as co-chairmen of the company in 2002, but she continued to contribute as a consultant.

The company made its name as much for its values as for how its wares are made.

Roddick joked that The Body Shop's trademark green color came by accident because it was the only color that could cover the mold on the walls of her first shop.

She said her environmental business ethics were inspired in part by women's beauty rituals that she discovered while traveling in developing countries and lessons from closer to home that her mother passed on from life during World War II.

"Why waste a container when you can refill it? And why buy more of something than you can use? We behaved as she did in the Second World War, we reused everything, we refilled everything and we recycled all we could," Roddick wrote.

The Body Shop opposed product testing on animals and tried to encourage the development of local communities in the Third World countries where it sources many of its goods. It also invested in a wind farm in Wales, as part of its campaign in support of renewable energy, and has set up its own human rights award.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


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Published in The New York Times on September 12, 2007
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