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home : news : news September 30, 2014

5/20/2013 3:06:00 PM
Byron mourns loss of salon owner
Kathy Simpson (left) and Loren Engelhardt worked together for 32 years at the Capri Beauty Shop. Engelhardt died May 10. Byron Review file photo.
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Kathy Simpson (left) and Loren Engelhardt worked together for 32 years at the Capri Beauty Shop. Engelhardt died May 10. Byron Review file photo.

By David Richards

The barber's chair is still there, but it doesn't get used as much.

Loren Engelhardt, owner of the Capri Beauty Shop on Byron Avenue, died May 10 after doing what he loved for more than four decades.

He was 65; the cause of his death has not yet been released.

Engelhardt died at his shop and is remembered as an easy going and simple man, who loved his family and golf and also enjoyed popcorn and candy.

His days went by with the sounds of the oldies and light rock that played in his salon, the conversations he had with his customers and perfecting two of his trademark haircuts, the wedge (also known as the Dorothy Hamill), and the shampoo set.

"When you work with someone that long, they definitely become your family," said Kathy Simpson, who has been a hair dresser at the salon for 32 years. "He was there at my wedding, at my sister's death, my dad's death and the birth of my two girls."

Simpson graduated from Byron High School in 1977, went off to college and then worked for a while in the Cities.

She never thought she'd be back in Byron permanently, but come back she did.

Engelhardt had cut Simpson's hair in high school, along with her siblings' hair and her mother's hair.

"He offered me a job, and there I stayed," Simpson said.

For more than three decades, the pair worked out of the salon's original location, on Fourth Street.

They moved in February of this year after state officials discovered the building was contaminated with tetrachloroethene, also known as PCE, a solvent that has been used in the dry cleaning industry. State officials were investigating another property when they discovered the contamination and stated that the contaminants were apparently there before Engelhardt moved in.

PCE can cause damage to the liver and the kidney and can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Agents from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spoke to the city council about its plans for the site cleanup in February.

The MPCA, at the time, said the site did not present a threat to public health, even to customers who frequented the beauty shop when it was there.

Simpson said when they moved locations, she and Engelhardt shared a chair instead of operating their own chairs and as a result saw less of each other. They took turns, each working 30 hours a week at the shop that was opened on Saturdays, but closed on Sundays.

Simpson said music was a staple at the business, playing everything from oldies to light rock and holiday music during Christmas time.

Simpson talked about her boss' routines, how he would have an early morning breakfast at Byron Market Place, and how on several days a week, he would go down to the American Legion for a popcorn and a pepsi if he had the time.

She also talked about his skill of cutting hair, his talent with the wedge cut and the shampoo set.

The wedge is a shorter cut preferred by some females.

In the latter cut, Engelhardt would shampoo a customer's hair, put rollers in and have it set, before styling it for the week.

"There were still people who came in for that," Simpson said.

In a 2008 article written by Ruth Hanson, a reporter for the Byron Review at the time, Hanson chronciled his decades as a hairdresser and wrote about while certain services offered had changed, Engelhardt's approach to his work had not.

"Just about all of our work used to be sets on rollers," he said at the time. "Now, we do mostly blow styling."

Asked by Hanson when he might retire, Engelhardt responded with, "probably never."

"It seems as if everybody who retires gets bored after a month and goes out and gets another job," he said.

Engelhardt's funeral was held May 15 at St. John's Lutheran Church in Kasson where he was a member. He also lived in Kasson.

As for Simpson, she said she still works at the shop part time and added that's it's still too soon to think long term.

"I have no idea," she said of her plans. "I just lost my boss and my friend, and I can't even wrap my mind around things right now."

Claremont Service

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