HOUSTON -- You might not know his name, but plenty of people in the Houston area love what he created.

Norris Womack, the man behind the popular hair salon and spa Norris of Houston, has passed away. He was in the business of making people pretty, and inside Norris of Houston, his employees and customers talk of the highlights of his more than half century career.

He was a pioneer in this industry. He did everything for the first time, first salon to do both men and women s hair, the shag, all the things the city is known for. He was the first to do it, Debbie Comeaux, spa director for Norris of Houston, said.

Womack built up quite a following that included big names like Liberace, Evil Kneivel and Milton Burle. There are also plenty of Houstonians like Bill Wise, who had their hair cut by Womack. Womack cut Wise s hair in the 60s.

He was a heck of a great barber. I had a lot of hair then, Wise said.

Womack was a third generation barber starting at just 16 in his father s shop. He later opened up his own shop in the once bustling Westbury Square. After locations in downtown and inside the old Warwick Hotel, he moved to The Galleria area.

Maye Sears worked for him for 43 years. She remembers what he used to say when he walked through the salon.

I don t hear any hair falling. Y all get to work. That would be something I d laugh about, Sears, a manicurist, said.

Friends say Houston has lost a legend -- a man who turned a barber shop into a modern salon and day spa. And even though he s gone, they say his legacy will continue.

Plans for a celebration of his life are in the works.

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