Anthony Tringali, barber who was among business pioneers in Columbia, dies

Anthony Joseph Tringali died of a heart attack March 20 at <runtime:topic id="ORGHC00044">Howard County General Hospital</runtime:topic>.
Anthony Joseph Tringali died of a heart attack March 20 at Howard County General Hospital. (Maisie Crow / HANDOUT)

Anthony Joseph Tringali, a barber who opened Columbia's first barber shop and was a few months short of celebrating his 50th anniversary working there, died of a heart attack March 20 at Howard County General Hospital.

He was 73 and lived in Ellicott City.


Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Philip Tringali, a Hollins Market produce dealer, and his wife Carmella Marsiglia. He was raised on North Augusta Avenue and in the Beaverbrook section of Howard County and was a 1963 graduate of Howard High School.

Family members said he learned about barbering from Victor Williams, who had a hair cutting shop in the Golden Triangle Shopping Center on Route 40 West. Mr. Tringali enrolled at Simon Avera's barbering school and learned his trade.


His sister, Lena Tringali, who worked for the Rouse Company's accounting department, told him of plans for the new community of Columbia.

Mr. Tringali and Richard Williams, the son of his mentor, decided to try a new venture. The Anthony Richard barber shop — and a beauty shop — opened at the Village of Wilde Lake in June 1967.

Mr. Tringali, then 23, was among the new town's first merchants in the first village center. He leased an adjoining space with a connecting door for a beauty shop he also owned. The barber shop had five chairs; the beauty shop had six stations.

On certain days a female barber worked both the beauty shop as well as the barber shop.


A collector of antiques, Mr. Tringali outfitted the barber shop with items he had picked on his travels.

"He made the shop a classic, old-fashioned neighborhood shop with an old look," said his wife, Charlotte Ann Smith.

"It was a classic neighborhood corner barber shop," said Robert Tennenbaum, a retired planner-architect and Columbia pioneer. "He loved to talk and he was the center of attention. He knew everybody, because it was the only barber shop for years until the commercial ones opened."

Mr. Tennenbaum said Mr. Tringali gave the first haircuts to early Columbia residents and their sons. He took their photographs and filled two walls of the shop with the images of his customers.

"As the children of Columbia got older and went off to college, they returned to Tony and had their hair cuts as adults. His work spanned generations," he said.

Mr. Tringali displayed his original lease in a frame. He signed in 1966 for space in what was then a dirt field. The building was not ready until June 1967 — when he trimmed the hair on his first Columbia customer.

"We saw the building of Columbia from the time they were grading the land and putting the stakes in the ground," said his wife. "On Sundays, we would take walks and cross a farmer's field behind his mother's house in Beaverbrook and go to where his site was. We knew where his building would be but we did not know the order of the businesses to be constructed.

"He was there at the inception of Columbia from the times the worms were still in the ground," she said. "He very much was looking forward to his 50th anniversary in the shop."

When the shop was new, Mr. Tringali also offered shaves to customers. One his four barbers, who specialized in shaves, would roll up a towel and immerse it in hot water before shaving his customer.

"He gave mostly traditional hair cuts and refused to do exotics like Mohawks. He was not a big fan of that," said William "Bill" Grady, a fellow barber who worked alongside him. "But he was flat top expert. I would call him the best flattop cutter in Howard County."

"He was smiling all the time and was mild mannered, said Mr. Grady. "I worked with him for 41 years and we never had a fight."

Mr. Tringali bought out his original partner and later closed the beauty shop.

He was a Orioles and Ravens fan, and was also a devotee of classic cars. At one time he owned a Jaguar XKE and bought a used Excalibur. For many years he drove a Corvette to work — and then had it sitting in his driveway after it no longer ran.

Mr. Tringali will be honored at a life celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. April 12 at the Village of Wilde Lake Center.

His name will be placed on a bench near his shop.

In addition to his wife of 50 years, a retired National Security Agency stenographer and licensed cosmetologist, survivors include a daughter, Christine Tringali of Ellicott City; two brothers, Louis Tringali of Marriottsville and Peter Tringali of Ellicott City; and two sisters, Frances Morgan of Newark, Calif. and Carmella Darmsteadt, also of Ellicott City. His sister, Lena Tringali, died in 2012.

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