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Posted March 21, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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A cut above

Pat Greer, left, checks the work of her student, Chastity Davis, right, on customer Michele Wilkerson. Photos by Dennis Grundman/Daily

Pat Greer is retiring after running Front Royal Beauty School for 30 years.

Beauty school owner hangs up her shears

By Ben Orcutt - Daily Staff Writer


FRONT ROYAL -- Although Wednesday was her last official day as owner of the Front Royal Beauty School, Pat Greer was busy doing what she's done for nearly 30 years, overseeing students as they learn the trade.

"We've been in this same block 30 years," Greer said. "I've had people that come in here that I've given their first cut to that are bringing me their children. It's amazing. I've had mothers that came to beauty school here that have brought their daughters and have come to beauty school."

Greer, 67, sold the beauty school to a former student, Sandy Tweedie. Greer said after her husband, Joe "Bucky" Greer, died in 2007, she began to re-evaluate things and decided it was time for her to sell the business and relocate closer to her daughter, Ginger Thompson, 38, who operates a salon in Charleston, S.C.

Greer said her sons, Sam Greer, 46, of Nokesville, and Danny Greer, 36, who owns Uncle Buck's Restaurant in Luray, also helped in the beauty school when they were younger. Greer has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In addition to the hustle and bustle of operating a beauty school, Greer said she'll miss the students. When she first started, haircuts were $2; today they're $7, Greer said.

"We've made a lot of friends and a lot of acquaintances in Front Royal," she said. "With the recession, we're still going strong. I'm gonna miss everybody and everything about it, but it's time for someone with more energy [to take over]."

Some of her former students made their way back to the school at 11 S. Royal Ave. on Wednesday to pay respect to their former mentor. One of those students was Cathy Steed, a legally blind hairstylist who owns and operates Cathy's Beauty Barn on Jackson Street in Front Royal.

Greer refers to Steed as one of her "prized possessions."

"Actually, I taught her how to cut by feel, the bone structure of the head and face," Greer said. "It was amazing what she's done, and there's a lot of success stories like that that's come out of Front Royal Beauty School. It's just amazing. It brings tears to my eyes. I adapted to being left-handed so I could teach a left-handed student. Not everybody's graduated, but they've all benefited. We've taught 'em poise and how to be nice. It's a great fellowship here, actually."

Steed, 50, has been cutting hair for 27 years and is grateful for the care and tutelage of Greer.

"I'm thankful that she did help me, and she had to do extra things for me because she had to read the tests out to me and things like that," Steed said.

Rebecca O'Herron, 27, of Front Royal, who earns a living as a hairstylist at Hair Cuttery in Gainesville, also stopped by on Wednesday to pay tribute to Greer.

"She taught me a lot," O'Herron said. "She taught me patience and to do things right rather than just to hurry and get it done."

Tweedie, 57, said taking the reins from her former mentor is bittersweet.

"It's a little sad to see her go because she's always been here," Tweedie said. "She started it. She's always had her hand in it."

Patricia Monteleone, 22, hopes to graduate in June from Front Royal Beauty School. She also says she's learned a great deal from Greer.

"She's taught me a lot. She knows everything about doing hair."

Greer observed student Chastity Davis, 26, on Wednesday as Davis worked on Michele Wilkerson's hair.

"They need the people skills, and the first thing I tell 'em is that when [customers] come in here, they may be having a worse day than you had, so your job is not to pass judgment on them," Greer said. "Your job is just to make them feel better. The public will forgive you for a bad haircut, but they're not gonna come back to you if you're mean to 'em. So it's all about just passing on kindness."

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