A year ago this month the Seattle salon world lost one of its most instrumental visionaries. Gary Howse, who cofounded the Gary Manuel Salon alongside Manuel Benevich in 1979, passed away at age 57 on August 3, 2014, in New York City. Now with two salons plus the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute, you’d be hard pressed to find a local stylist untouched, even secondarily, by Howse’s legacy. Here, some of his closest colleagues share their fondest memories.
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“Gary was supposed to emcee an Aveda event but suddenly became ‘unavailable’ and needed me to fill in. It was a huge risk for me professionally because I was so nervous. Luckily when I got on stage I had a blast! Gary texted me after and said, ‘I knew you would love that and that they would love you; get used to it.’ ” —J’Keren Sears, director of Gary Manuel Aveda Institute
“Gary had an insatiable appetite for education. We once traveled to Italy and Paris on a trip with the Wella cosmetics company visiting different salons. Experiencing style around the world really formed his own personal style and grace, and he brought the world back to Seattle.” —Cindy Jarvis, friend and hairstylist
“Sometimes Gary would catch my eye and make this funny face where his eyes became big and his mouth scrunched up to one side. It always relayed a message that I needed. I felt that he knew what was going on with me and that he was with me on it. That one look told me that he had my back.” —Alex Lawlis, friend and salon designer
“He changed the way we think about hair: It’s not just about aesthetics, but also about improving confidence; it’s about making someone’s day.” —Manuel Benevich, cofounder of Gary Manuel Companies
“It was my final test of a grueling intern program and Gary was correcting my work. He was stone faced, so I thought I failed. Embarrassed and sad, I continued to assist him that day. When a client of his came in, Gary said to them casually, ‘I want you to meet the newest stylist to the salon.’ I had to leave his station to regain my composure.” —Robert Middleton, owner of Stylus Salon and Spa
“The greatest impact on me was Gary’s unparalleled customer service. When you were a guest of Gary’s, everything was taken care of. Everything from the umbrella holders to the love and attention that he gave his customers; he was a master.” —Matt Humphrey, president of Gary Manuel Companies