San Pedro barber dies at 65, leaving family, friends and beloved clients behind – Daily Breeze

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With a passion for life and a knack for creating stunning hair, award-winning Manouk Kassabian was the kind of stylist all women adore. Many stayed with him for decades at the San Pedro salon that he and his wife, Dee, bought in 1982.

The news that Kassabian died earlier this month in a motorcycle accident near Big Bear sent – and continues to send – shockwaves through the community that knew and loved him at La Vogue Coiffure, in the Weymouth Corners shopping district. He was 65 years old.

“My heart is broken!” posted Elaine Kielbasa on the show’s Facebook page. “He was an icon for this community and my hairstylist for many years and he will be missed forever. “

Kassabian, a resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, was born in Beirut on February 20, 1954. He saved his money and came to the United States when he was about 20, first settling in Torrance (he attended the cosmetology school at John Perry’s, where he met his first wife, Lorrie Bouter) and then in the Harbor Area, where he quickly made a name for himself in hairdressing circles. He worked at C&F Scissors, Rolling Hills Estates, and Michael J’s Salon, San Pedro, before purchasing La Vogue.

He began in the flamboyant, tight pants and thick-necked era of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In recent years, his look has become more seasoned as he took on the role of grandfather. adored and popular holiday host at parties, preparing his favorite Lebanese specialties for the guests.

Her daughter, Natalie Kassabian Myers, who is also a stylist at La Vogue, said her father discovered his calling when he was just 12, helping a local salon owner sweep his shop every week. Soon he learns the trade.

“He loved to make people happy,” Myers said.

Kassabian was innovative, passionate and “at the cutting edge of technology,” Myers said. Over the years, he’s won several styling contest awards – his trophies occupy an upper shelf in the living room – and most recently he’s been a judge.

He loved motorcycles, food and travel.

But most of all, he loved what he was doing.

“He was booked everyday,” Myers said, “and he still had new customers coming.”

Kassabian, with his head full of curly hair, greeted his customers like family, often with a cup of Turkish coffee or the offer of a glass of wine.

No one was a better listener, his longtime clients have said. He was nice. And he always made them laugh. His natural connection spanned from children to adolescents to young adults to older adults. It didn’t matter.

“He was a larger than life personality,” said Jorja Mazzella, longtime San Pedro customer. “His heart was so loving and full that he made everyone he met feel loved and welcomed. He really just embodied a booming spirit.

Mazzella met when they were both in their 20s, she said – and she never consulted another stylist after that.

“I’ve never been to a hairdresser other than him,” said Mazzella, co-owner of Norman’s, a bespoke school uniform clothing company in downtown San Pedro. “He did my husband’s hair and my three sons’ first haircuts. It is such a loss, it is irreplaceable.

RN Donna Wright had known Kassabian for over 30 years.

“He’s the only one who’s cut my hair for all these years,” she said. “I was referred to him by a friend and that was it, I wasn’t going to go to someone else.”

Wright also served as a role model for Kassabian for several of the competitions he competed in. It sometimes required a more radical look than she used to.

“I was like ‘Manouk, I can’t (look) too crazy, I’m a mother of two, I’m a nurse,'” she said.

But, she said, Kassabian still promises to change it after the contest ends.

But Wright, over the years, has had his own hairstyle evolution. Kassabian was there for the changes. He slowly walked Wright from long locks to short hair, from brunette to redhead.

“He was like, ‘Oh, Donna. Oh, Donna, it’s gonna be good for you, ”she said.

Wright learned to trust his instincts.

News of his death – it was a Sunday, July 14, in the company of friends and son-in-law Jeff Myers when his bike hit gravel on the winding mountain road they were traveling – stunned his many. friends, who flooded the living room with cards and visits to offer their condolences.

Kassabian and his wife, Dee, had just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary on July 8.

“He was loved,” Wright said. “He was a good-natured man who loved life and loved people.”

The family intends to continue operating the salon.

Planning for a memorial in the coming weeks is underway, which will be coordinated and announced by the McNerney Mortuary. Plans are to bury him next to his youngest son, Kristopher Kassabian, in Utah; her son also died in a motorcycle accident on October 27, 2013.

In the meantime, the family has launched a GoFundMe page to help with expenses and will be hosting a benefit “painting party” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 28 at the Salon, 1444 W. Eighth St. Artist Shari Tipich, a former client, will provide $ 50 canvas painting lessons. All proceeds will go to the Manouk Memorial Fund. RSVP: 310-251-7801.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Kassabian is survived by a son, Tony, his fiancee, Kelly Olson, and their daughter, Ella Deeand; and two granddaughters, Skye and Keira Myers.

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