Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of former President Donald Trump who play a key role in his business empire, died Thursday at the age of 73.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Ivana Trump," the Trump family said in a statement. "Our mother was an incredible woman — a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty, and caring mother and friend."
Ivana and Donald Trump married in 1977 and she quickly became a force in his business dealings, rising to executive vice president in the Trump organization and overseeing the interior design of several Trump properties.
"It wasn't easy to raise three kids as a full-time working mother, even with nannies," Ivana wrote in her 2017 memoir, "Raising Trump: Family Values from America's First Mother."
"During my fourteen-year marriage to Donald, I designed the interiors of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and Trump Tower, was president and CEO of Trump Castle (the only woman in the top position at any casino in the world that I know of), and president and CEO of the Plaza Hotel, winning the prestigious Hotelier of the Year award in 1990."
Ivana detailed her daily life running Trump Castle in a 1988 Vanity Fair profile, saying that her former husband used to refer to her as "his twin as a woman."
"We have nearly four thousand employees. A payroll of $1.2 million a week. Ten thousand people come every day to the Castle. We serve 13,000 covers — food and drink. It’s like running a small city," she told Vanity Fair.
"You have to know about housekeeping, laundry, entertainment, show girls, orchestra, casino lounges, the health club. Plus hotel marketing, casino marketing…"
Ivana credited her ex-husband with having faith in her business abilities and said she advised the president for decades after their 1992 divorce.
"When people ask, I say that behind every successful woman is a man in shock. And it’s true, so I think Donald knew that I could achieve," she told the New York Post in April 2016, about seven months before Donald Trump was elected president.
"He gave me the chance. I came [to America] and I was a poor person. I had a sense of style so he put me in charge of interior design of the Grand Hyatt Hotel," she continued. "I was seven months pregnant and going up the steps, making sure everything was on the schedule."
Ivana Trump was born in 1949 in Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, and reflected on how her upbringing in a Communist country shaped her life.
Her grandmother, Karine, was the president of a Bata shoe factory and would be at work every day by 5:00 a.m., Ivana wrote in her 2017 memoir.
"My business acumen comes from my grandmother," Ivana wrote. "My passion comes from my father, who refused to join the Communist Party despite intense pressure from the government."