Mary Kay Ash

Though no one at Dallas-based Mary Kay Cosmetics will say too much about her physical condition, 83-year-old cosmetics queen Mary Kay Ash remains in fragile health following a stroke she suffered five years ago, and she rarely leaves her famous “round house” in North Dallas. Until that time, she was involved in the day-to-day operations as chairman emeritus of the privately held company she founded in 1963, even though she had relinquished her duties as chairwoman of the board of directors to her son, Richard R. Rogers, in 1987. (Rogers stepped down as CEO in 1992, leaving an executive team to run the company, but returned to that post last June.) These days, Ash watches the annual Mary Kay sales seminar on videotape. Even if she can no longer provide the motivational inspiration in person for her 750,000-strong sales force, the company says that both sales and the number of new recruits are high.

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