Paul A. Risi, a Charles Village hairstylist whose annual Christmas tree was a tradition in his Bolton Hill neighborhood, died Aug. 29 of AIDS at his home. He was 41.
Mr. Risi worked at Current Rage Hair Studio, where he had begun his career 13 years ago. Earlier, he had been a waiter.
"He was very popular with our clients and had wonderful expertise as a cutter," said Rose Nathewitch, Current Rage proprietor. "He kept his customers for years, and that was because he did exactly what they asked and he always smiled."
"One of the most amazing things about Paul was his disposition and how he approached his illness," said Linda Dee, a Baltimore attorney and head of AIDS Action Baltimore.
"He refused to lose hope and, despite painful chemotherapy treatments, would take walks to the Inner Harbor and continued entertaining his friends and tried to live a normal life. He weathered it all and took it in stride. He was very courageous."
"He was beautiful inside and out, and was the most unselfish person that I've ever met," Ms. Nathewitch said. "He volunteered at AIDS Action and helped others who suffered with the disease."
A noted gardener and gourmet with a penchant for Italian cooking, Mr. Risi also was known for his annual Christmas tree.
"It was a Douglas fir that was at least 12 feet tall," said J. Carroll "Jake" Boone III, his companion. "He would begin decorating it the first of December and people would come by at night to follow his progress. He decorated it with thousands of lights and ornaments that he collected and often would still be decorating it Christmas Day."
Born and raised in Portsmouth, Va., Mr. Risi was a 1972 graduate of Portsmouth High School and attended the Maryland Institute, College of Art.
A memorial service is scheduled for 7 o'clock tonight at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, 2801 N. Charles St.
hTC Other survivors include a brother, Richard Risi; two sisters, Denise Hunter and Carol Lynn Risi; his father, Bernard Risi, all of Portsmouth; and a brother, Kenneth Burke of New Orleans.
Donations may be made to AIDS Action Baltimore, 2105 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218.