Kathleen Hagan Wallace, 70, of West Mt. Airy, owner of Sherlocks beauty salon in Chestnut Hill, died Feb. 9 of multiple organ failure at Einstein Medical Center in Elkins Park.
Mrs. Wallace opened her shop – one of the longest running businesses in Chestnut Hill – in 1978 across the street from the street from the Chestnut Hill Hotel and moved twice to its present location at 15 W. Highland Ave.
Her first client was Chef Tell Erhardt, then owner of the restaurant at the hotel. Another early client was Big John Wallace, a professional musician who played bass and sang with Harry Chapin who would later become her husband.
In its 39 years, the shop has become an institution in Chestnut Hill. In an interview in the Chestnut Hill Local marking the shop’s 20th anniversary, Mrs. Wallace said that if she had to describe her business in one word, it would be “generations.”
“We’ve grown up with our customers,” she said. “We’d start out doing someone’s hair, and then as years went by we’ll be doing her husband’s and then her children’s. So one customer can turn into four or five.”
The two chairs in her original shop have expanded to seven in the current location with five employees.
Born in Germantown and raised in Glenside, Mrs. Wallace graduated from St. Luke’s Parish School and Bishop McDevitt High School. She attended Willow Grove Beauty Academy and practiced her craft for 10 years before opening her own shop. She worked for a time with Barry Leonard in Center City and for several years with a salon in Spring House.
Mrs. Wallace’s husband, John, said his wife was known “for her sparkling blue eyes, which were nothing compared to her inner sparkle.”
“It was her generous spirit, incredible sense of humor and joyful personality that made friends and strangers alike feel happy in her presence,” he said. “Kathy touched so many lives over the years, and she will be missed by so many people.”
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Wallace is survived by daughters, Jennifer Leadbeater and Charlene McNamara; stepdaughters Karoline Wallace and Kristen Bloomer; a stepson, Clark Wallace; four grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Jacob F. Ruth Funeral Directors, 8413 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill. –WF