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A lifetime of styling

Hair stylist Judy Goergen of Sterling Beauty Salon puts roller pins in the hair of longtime customer Lois Post. Goergen retired at noon on Saturday after 51 years of cutting and styling hair. -- Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com

Hairdresser calls it quits after 51 years

She stood countless hours while her clients sat patiently, both she and them gabbing until each time the process was complete. It was an enjoyable experience that Judy Goergen cherished for 51 years: styling hair.

On Saturday, Goergen finally threw in the towel — the comb, spray bottle, scissors and all. She retired.

“It’s just time,” she said on Friday while putting roller pins in the hair of longtime client Lois Post.

Goergen officially retired at noon on Saturday, and her coworkers at Sterling Beauty Salon threw a retirement party for her. Goergen is well-known in the Austin beauty scene: She bought Sterling Beauty Salon from Les Ramseth in about 1979 — she thinks — after working for him for several years. With the help of several regular clients, Goergen mostly remembered the salon’s history — the rest must have gotten mixed up in years of hair clippings.

Goergen moved the salon in 1986 to its current location on 12th St. and First Ave. SW. She then sold it to Carol Tracy, who was Goergen’s boss from 2006 until Saturday. But Goergen is still the mentor.

“The thing is, she had faith in me,” Tracy said. “And that’s why I bought it.”

While Goergen, now 69, looks forward to more golfing, traveling and spending time with her husband, one thing will be tough: The next time she walks in to get her hair done, she won’t be an employee, just a customer.

“That’s going to be tough,” Goergen said.

Yet Sterling customers and employees know she will be more than just a customer and will continue to be a good friend.

“She’s a really good stylist,” Tracy said, who added that she and Goergen seem to have a mother-daughter relationship.

And Goergen will maintain the friendships she has built over the years. The people, she said, are what have kept her motivated over 51 years. After all, haircuts inherently accompany quality conversation, which often keeps customers coming back for more.

“Some have been with me for many, many years,” Goergen said about those clients or friends.

Goergen has gone from client to student, to apprentice, to full-timer, to boss and back to employee. Now she has come full circle.