William F. Fritz, a World War II veteran who owned and operated a well-known Pikesville hair salon for more than 50 years, died Wednesday of kidney failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 85.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Fritz was a 1943 graduate of Patterson High School. During World War II, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific, attaining the rank of corporal.
After the war, he returned to Baltimore, where he planned to become a barber until two uncles persuaded him to become a hairstylist instead.
Mr. Fritz enrolled at the Marinello School of Beauty, where he studied hairstyling on the G.I. Bill of Rights.
In 1948, he opened a salon under his own name in a former Read's drugstore next to the Pikes Theatre on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville, where he styled hair for the next 55 years until retiring in 2003.
At the salon's peak, Mr. Fritz had 25 operators and nine manicurists working full time to handle the customers, often three generations' worth, who had their hair styled there, family members said.
Mr. Fritz also took care of the many celebrities who played at the "Lyric, Painters Mill Music Fair or Mechanic, or who were making movies," said his daughter, Laurie Bova of Bel Air.
"He worked on the tresses of actresses Loretta Young, Tallulah Bankhead, Penny Singleton, Gail Storm, Joan Blondell and Hildegarde, as well as many wives of the Baltimore Colts, Orioles and other local celebrities," Ms. Bova said.
Mr. Fritz was joined in the business by his wife, the former Anna DiMassimo, whom he married in 1946 and who handled business affairs at the salon.
A resident of Phoenix in Baltimore County for more than 40 years, Mr. Fritz was a physical fitness enthusiast and a member of Bally Health Fitness, where he worked out three times a week until he was 85.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 25 at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 E. Padonia Road.
Also surviving are two sons, William L. Fritz of Canton and David J. Fritz of Phoenix; a sister, Eileen Cox of Homewood; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.