Richard Bankerd, a hairstylist who owned a salon and competed in major industry competitions, died of lymphoma May 2 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. A resident of the Mayfield section of Northeast Baltimore, he was 71.
"He had trophies that are taller than I am," said Jacqueline Cody, a Towson resident and former Towson Town Center beauty shop owner. "He was excellent, a top stylist. His customers were devoted to him. He just knew what to do."
Born in Baltimore, he was raised on Aiken Street and later lived in Hamilton. He was the son of Dorothea Bankerd, a hairdresser and colorist at the old Andre's of Charles Street, and Ferran Bankerd, a mariner. He attended Hamilton Junior High School.
"School was not a priority for him. He grew up in the back room of his mother's salon," said his wife, Marie Lubeck Bankerd, with whom he worked for decades. "He was a shy kid who taught himself the profession. There is a family story that his mother had a heart attack, and as she was being taken to an ambulance, she said, 'Do the customers for me, we've got rent to pay.' "
Mr. Bankerd was a natural dancer and at age 14 began appearing on the "Buddy Deane Show," the live afternoon television rock 'n' roll program. Family members said he was a featured dancer on the show.
"He never lost his love of dance, and he liked nothing better than to cut a rug with me," his wife said.
At 15, Mr. Bankerd began his hairstyling career. He worked alongside his mother at Dorothea's, later Dorothea and Richard, at shops they had in Hamilton. From 1980 to 1999, he owned Richard Bankerd Designs on Harford Road near Hamilton Avenue.
"He was an excellent stylist and was known as the razor man," his wife said. "He was no-nonsense in his approach. He was old-school but not old-fashioned."
She recalled that in the mid-1950s, when the mother-and-son-owned shop was located above the Hochstedt florist business, there could be a line of customers waiting on the staircase. He was a specialist in teased and high hair and the beehive styles of the 1950s and early '60s. Family members said he went to New York to learn the beehive style and helped make it popular in Baltimore.
"Despite being entirely self-taught, he rose to become a decorated hairstylist," his wife said. "He won first prize in every major styling competition in the United States and represented the U.S. in four world championship teams."
Mr. Bankerd was featured in The Baltimore Sun in 1978, when he was named to the team of four cosmetologists who represented the U.S. in the world championship of hairdressing held in Dusseldorf, Germany.
"It's a creative thing," Mr. Bankerd said at the time. "They are testing your artistic ability but are trying to keep it commercial, too. Commercial means wearable ... something you could go to work in and also be currently fashionable."
He said of his experience in Germany: "In Europe, [hair] is less commercial, more sprayed, gaudy, heavily done, and hard-surfaced. It's contrived and lacquered."
In 1975, Mr. Bankerd won an America's Cup and World Supreme prize. He also won a National Hairdressers' and Cosmetologists' Association's International Medallion.
In a 1981 Sun article, he commented on the hairstyle of then-Lady Diana Spencer, who wed Prince Charles that year.
Mr. Bankerd called her hairstyle "a good basic cut for any age." But to pull it off, he said, "You have to have some body to your hair. The accent is all on the front of the brow. The rest is very severe." He said that her style did not catch on in Baltimore and that only three women had asked for it.
After he closed his Harford Road shop, he worked for Jacqueline Coady in Timonium and at The Salon at Mays Chapel, where he stepped down in late February.
For many years, he did hair and makeup for the Baltimore Actors Theater, Spotlighters and other companies. He also worked for a production of "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" for the Factory Edge Theatre Works at Theater Project in 2010. He once appeared on the Lyric stage as a dragon in Victor Herbert's "Babes in Toyland."
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church, 600 S. Conkling St., in Highlandtown.
In addition to his wife of 46 years, survivors include three sons, Troy Bankerd, Chad Bankerd and Lance Bankerd, all Baltimore; and a grandson. His mother died in 1988.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun