Blas A. Alfaro, a retired Howard County educator who had owned several hair salons and a beauty academy, died Sunday of prostate cancer at his Mount Airy home. He was 75.
Mr. Alfaro was born and raised in the Bronx, N.Y., where he graduated from high school.
He served in the Marine Corps and Army from 1946 to 1952, and later wrote a privately published memoir, Stories of GIs in Japan, chronicling his experiences serving with the Army's occupation forces in Japan.
Mr. Alfaro wrote that memories of those years would surface occasionally "without rhyme or reason" and then "you are transported to the land you left behind through music, odors or food."
After moving to Maryland in the 1950s, Mr. Alfaro studied cosmetology at schools in Wheaton and Silver Spring. In the early 1960s, he established the Tiki II beauty salon and Maryland Beauty Academy in Laurel. He later added another salon there, Beauty II.
In 1975, after closing the businesses, he taught cosmetology at the former Howard County Vocational-Technical High School in Ellicott City. He retired in 1992.
"A friend of mine, who is left-handed, was telling me when she was in vocational school learning to cut hair, her teacher got her to use right-handed scissors. I told her that her teacher was my father," said a daughter, Theresa A. Daytner of Mount Airy.
The friend, Margaret S. Cockran, a former beautician, said Mr. Alfaro was "a wonderful man and a very enthusiastic teacher. He was always very excited when you accomplished something."
Mr. Alfaro also taught patience.
"Whenever we were frustrated, he'd say, `Go away and get rid of the stress and then come back,'" Mrs. Cockran said.
"He taught all the fundamentals, which included cutting, perming, styling, finger waves, pin curls and manicuring," Mrs. Cockran said. "He got us ready to pass our state boards, and when we were finished we could handle anyone who walked into a shop," she said.
In retirement, Mr. Alfaro taught English as a second language at Calvary United Methodist Church in Mount Airy. He was teaching there as recently as two weeks ago, his family said.
He also enjoyed cooking and arranging parties featuring Hispanic cuisine and enlivened by Latin music and dancing.
"He loved to cook Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes. One of his favorite dishes was a Cuban pork roast with lots of garlic and mojito sauce. It was very, very spicy," Mrs. Daytner said.
Mr. Alfaro was also an accomplished photographer, woodcarver and gardener.
He was a member of Gold Star American Legion Post 191 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10076, both in Mount Airy.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Calvary United Methodist, 403 S. Main St.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Alfaro is survived by his wife of 40 years, the former Sharon Conroy, a retired Hammond High School science teacher; a son, Robert Alfaro of Crosby, Texas; another daughter, Regina D. Miller of Germantown; a stepson, James Woodworth of Boise, Idaho; a sister, Isabel Portillo of Long Island, N.Y.; and 11 grandchildren.