I can't say I knew him well but I knew that Gary Howse held an extremely important place on the timeline of style, beauty, and design in Seattle. When I heard of his passing on August 3 in New York City, that's immediately how I thought of him.

Image courtesy Gary Manuel Salon

When I first met the Gary Manuel Salon co-founder in ... oh, it must have been 2008? 2009? ... he told me about growing up in the Northwest and establishing the salon with partner Manuel Benevich. He was quiet but passionate, and clearly driven by beauty and a strong work ethic.

Over the years, as I met more and more beauty professionals, certain Seattle hair stylists—the ones who thought about their lineage in a local way (those are always my favorites of course)—would consistently reference Gary, Gary, and Gene. Howse, Bozc, and Juarez, that is. Between them all, they taught, shaped, and mentored some of the best hair stylists in town.

Howse and I met up again one morning for a tour of his then-new outpost in South Lake Union, and not long after that when a high-profile friend and local literature-celebrity—with a vision for red hair, no less—needed a new stylist for a bigtime event, I emailed him. Even though I knew he had a year-long wait for new clients, he was also a true color specialist. And I thought, well, who knows?

Howse declined to take her on himself but hustled to hook my friend up with one of his most trusted colleagues; I think she's still seeing her.

Which brings to mind the many who will no longer be able to see Howse. They'll no doubt miss his low-key but positive vibe, and his impeccable skills as well.

In an obituary penned by his community and sent to the media, salon partner Manuel Benevich called Howse "the light in our sky and the shoes on our feet."

Manuel Benevich stated "he was light in our sky and the shoes on our feet." - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=gary-alan-howse&pid=172053897#sthash.qsbwyr1j.dpuf

He is survived by his new husband Philip Pares, a brother and sister and several nieces and nephews, and two salons and a learning institute full of devotees. Our best goes out to them all.

Philip Pares