Roger Sanders, 91, owned beauty supply stores

March 31, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Roger Sanders, a hair stylist who began selling African-American hair care products in the 1950s and soon became the city's leading source for black hair supplies, died Thursday from stroke complications at Sinai Hospital.

Mr. Sanders, 91, of West Baltimore owned four Roger's Beauty Supply Co. stores that sold products ranging from hair-straighteners to shaving supplies for black men and Afro blowout kits.

"His were always the most well-stocked stores and usually had the most knowledgeable staff working there. A lot of time Mr. Sanders helped customers to decide what they needed for their hair," said Colleen Dennis, a former employee and longtime patron of the stores.

"He took a hands-on approach, because he was so knowledgeable about hair from all of his years in the business."

Known as "Mr. Rogers" to many patrons, he also made products -- including a popular pomade -- and was believed to be the first to introduce chemical hair-straighteners in Baltimore.

"He was a beautician, so he knew what to do for hair," said his granddaughter, Juanita Knight of New York.

"He knew what to use for the results people wanted."

Products bearing his name were a fixture for years in drugstores and supermarkets in the Baltimore region.

Mr. Sanders kept up on the latest trends in hair styling by attending conventions and seminars throughout the country, friends and relatives said.

"He had a firsthand knowledge of hair, because he worked on hair for 25 years before he started the business," said his wife, the former Dorothy Byrd, whom he married in 1955. "He never had any partners to help him. Really, I was his only partner. We worked together."

Mr. Sanders owned stores on Pennsylvania Avenue, Gay Street, Edmondson Avenue and Liberty Heights Avenue, the first opening in 1958. He sold his business and retired in the late 1980s.

A native of Chester, S.C., Mr. Sanders learned to work on hair as a child and graduated from Apex and Bonaparte Beauty School in New York in 1930. Upon his graduation, he opened a beauty salon in New York, which he operated until 1955.

That year, he moved to Baltimore and began selling jewelry and beauty and hair care products.

"He was a hair stylist who found success as a businessman. He probably considered himself a hair stylist first, but he probably had much more success selling his products," Ms. Dennis said.

Mr. Sanders enjoyed hunting and fishing and belonged to Pioneer Rod and Gun Club in Easton.

He was a longtime member of the old Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church and recently belonged to Zion Baptist Church, where services were held yesterday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Roger Sanders Jr. of New York; two other grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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