Cynthia Lufkin, whose marriage to a co-founder of Wall Street firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette created a New York power couple in social and philanthropic circles, has died. She was 51.
She died on July 3 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, her husband Dan Lufkin, said in an interview. The cause was complications of breast and lung cancer. Her home was in Washington, Connecticut, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of New York City.
Diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with her second child in 2005, Lufkin focused her later philanthropic work on the disease. The holder of a degree in biochemistry, she was particularly interested in how healthy living could bolster the outlook for cancer patients, and her work led to the opening of the Cynthia Lufkin Fitness and Seminar Room at Sloan-Kettering’s Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center.
“She focused on things which tended to be ignored by normal medical procedures and normal medical institutions,” Dan Lufkin, 81, said. Those included “the fact that recently diagnosed patients need reinforcement and understanding that this disease can be fought and its impacts postponed for a period of time.”
Dan Lufkin co-founded DLJ in 1959 with William Donaldson and Richard Jenrette. The firm’s research work, led by Lufkin, focused on small companies just beginning to grow and helped attract pension funds, mutual funds and other institutional investors as clients. Bucking New York Stock Exchange rules, DLJ went public, in 1970, blazing a trail that other Wall Street firms soon followed.
The couple married in 2000. It was her second marriage, his third.
She was co-chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York and was active in its support of a Sloan-Kettering project to develop a DNA vaccine for melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
Following her treatment for breast cancer, which included a double mastectomy, she was diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer, which mostly strikes people who never smoked cigarettes, her husband said.
Around the time of her initial diagnosis in 2005, Lufkin and her husband were turning the former chapel of the New York Cancer Hospital, built in the 1880s on Central Park West between 105th and 106th streets, into their Manhattan residence.
The New York Times, in a 2008 article on the Lufkins and their home, said Mrs. Lufkin appreciated the irony: “You could see people praying for miracles and giving thanks here, and in reality that’s what it became for us.”
Cynthia Joy Henry was born on April 30, 1962, in Somerville, New Jersey, and raised in the neighboring town of Branchburg. Her mother, Joyce Ford, is among her survivors.
She graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1984. Traveling in Milan after her graduation, she landed a nonspeaking part on a soap opera, as “a secretary for a wealthy gentleman,” according to the 2008 Times story, which quoted her as saying, “I lit his cigars and opened up his Jaguar door.”
She called that role “training for the future,” referring to Dan Lufkin. “We do have a Jaguar, and he does love cigars.”
With the National Audubon Society, Lufkin created an annual $100,000 prize for environmental leadership named for her husband, who, after leaving Wall Street, served as Connecticut’s environmental commissioner and was on the steering committee that in 1970 organized the first Earth Day.
Her first marriage produced a daughter before ending in divorce. Lufkin was working in public relations for Tiffany & Co. when she met Dan Lufkin in 1999.
In addition to her mother and husband, survivors include her daughter from her first marriage, Schuyler Hazard, 16; her two children with Lufkin, daughter Aster Lee Lufkin, 7, and Daniel Patrick Lufkin, 4; and her brother, Don Henry.