Ethel M.E. Scheeler, 88, hairstylist, owner of Aero Acres beauty salon

January 25, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

For more than 40 years, from marcel waves to the popular beehive and shag, Ethel M. E. Scheeler, an eastern Baltimore County beautician, made sure her customers were coiffed in the latest styles.

The former owner of Scheeler's Beauty Salon in Aero Acres died in her sleep Sunday at Hart Heritage, an assisted-living facility in Street. She was 88.

Mrs. Scheeler began her career in the early days of the Depression when she converted the front room of her home on Bird River Road into a beauty salon and began styling hair to help pay for medical treatment for a son who suffered from asthma.

"We needed money to pay for the doctor, and that's how she started," said a son, C. Michael Scheeler of Cecilton.

Mrs. Scheeler received her cosmetology license in 1935. During that decade, she practiced the cropped shingled look and the Joan Crawford marcel wave, which required her to painstakingly iron in the waves row by row.

In the 1960s, when the beehive hairdo and the Vidal Sassoon cut popularized by Jacqueline Kennedy became popular, she introduced the styles to her customers.

In later years, tints, dyes, permanents and wigs became fashionable, causing Mrs. Scheeler to comment at her 1987 retirement that people "weren't concerned as much about their hair" when she started out.

Her shop had several locations before she settled in the early 1950s in the Aero Acres Shopping Center, built by the Glenn L. Martin Co., where she had work stations for 10 beauticians to handle the crowds that jammed the salon Fridays and Saturdays.

It wasn't uncommon, said family members, for Mrs. Scheeler to do 30 permanents a day and innumerable beehives for the young women who worked at the Glenn L. Martin Co. nearby.

"She flipped up my hair and fixed it with little bangs," said May Beck, 94, of Rocky Point, a friend for more than 60 years. Mrs. Beck had a standing appointment each Friday for 20 years.

"She cut my hair until I was 50, and because she was my mother, she cut it the way she wanted it and I just put up with it," her son said, laughing.

After buying and selling farms in Harford County and Betterton, she and her husband, Charles Henry Scheeler Jr., purchased Greenfields, a 500-acre farm near Cecilton. They were married in 1930, and he died in 1990.

Greenfields dates to 1674 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Even though she lived in Cecilton, she'd drive 126 miles round-trip each day from the farm to her beauty salon," said her son.

Ethel Betz was born and raised near Golden Ring. She was a graduate of Kenwood High School and attended business school in Baltimore.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Zion Evangelical Lutheran United Church of Christ, 7146 Golden Ring Road.

She is survived by another son, C. Ronald Scheeler of Raleigh, N.C.; a brother, Henry J. Betz Jr. of Towson; two sisters, Frieda McCarty of Towson and Mildred Peper of Forest Hill; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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