After Riverhead salon owner passed from COVID-19, his daughter reopened in his memory
A popular Riverhead salon is back open for business, despite losing its owner to COVID-19. Now his daughter is taking over things in his memory.
The shop is buzzing at Robert James Salon, where customers can finally get haircuts and blowouts again after being closed for months.
But for Lisa Pickersgill, it's a bittersweet reopening. Her father Ray contracted COVID-19 in early April and passed away at age 71.
"He would always be there. There was never a 'give up.' There was never a 'not going to succeed,'" says Lisa.
Lisa says when the lockdown was lifted, she was determined to reopen as a tribute to her father. She says Ray was a guiding force in building the business from the ground up 17 years ago.
She says it was a labor of love for her father, because he wanted to help make her dreams of being a hairdresser and business owner come true.
"It was important for him to see that individually, I would always be able to take care of myself," says Lisa.
As the former president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, Ray is credited with helping revitalize the downtown business community. It's a contribution residents will always remember.
"He was such a presence and he was so kind and loving, supportive, always listened to anybody who needed his shoulder," says Grace Abruzzo.
Lisa says she misses her father's presence at the salon and in life everyday, but she knows he'd be proud.
"It's important to me because this was his determination and his legacy to carry on no matter what."