By John Lynds
Ignazio “Iggy” Gerardi, one of East Boston most beloved and colorful barbers, has died.
Mr. Gerardi, affectionately known throughout the neighborhood as ‘Iggy’ passed away suddenly on Sunday, March 5 while on vacation in Brazil. He was 58 years old.
For close to four decades Iggy brought joy, happiness and friendship to his loyal customers as the co-owner of Style Center Salon on Meridian Street.
Iggy was born on February 4, 1959 in Marsala, Sicily to Vincenzo and Olimpia Gerardi and immigrated to Eastie in 1971.
At the age of 14 he met and began a lifelong friendship with Phil Talluto, who would eventually become Iggy’s business partner at Style Center.
“Everybody loved Iggy,” said Talluto. “Iggy was my brother, he was my friend and we laughed every day we were together.”
Iggy and Talluto began working together shinning shoes at the age of 14 outside a barber shop in Boston.
Later Iggy and Talluto got their barbers licenses and went to work in Quincy for a few years before deciding to open their own barber shop on Meridian Street in 1981–shortly after Iggy married his late wife, Anita.
At Style Center, regular customers became accustomed to the “Phil and Iggy Show” as they called it. The show was a blend of Iggy’s talents as a barber as well his ability to tell hilarious stories or make his loyal customers laugh.
“He was the funniest person I had ever met,” said Talluto. “He loved his customers and he loved to tell them stories and make them laugh. I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I think of him right now. I spent the past 36 years side by side with Iggy. He was the godfather to my kids. I was the best man in his wedding. I was the godfather to his kids. We were family. I really can’t believe he is gone.”
Up until last year, Iggy stayed cutting the hair of generations of Eastie and Style Center earned the reputation of being part barbershop, part hang out, part clubhouse with Iggy being front and center of it all.
“Working at Style Center was the best time of my life,” said Iggy’s cousin Marina Giacalone Smith, who joined the team in 1990 after they expanded and offered women’s hairdressing. “Everyone came in to see Iggy – he was always happy and always laughing. He loved people and people loved him. People would wait two hours just to sit in his chair and get a hair cut.”
In fact most of Iggy’s customers had been getting a haircut in his chair for 25 to 30 years.
“I have known Iggy since he came here from Italy when he was a child,” said longtime friend and customer, City Councilor Sal LaMattina. “He has cut my hair and my family’s hair for the last 25 years. I will miss my monthly visits with him. I have always enjoyed his sense of humor, his compassion for life and his love for his family.”
The Gerardi Family has set up an online fundraising campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/help-gerardi-family. The money raised will be used to help the family return Iggy to the U.S. from Brazil as well as funeral expenses.
“I never saw him in a bad mood, can’t recall a time when he wasn’t laughing, and will always remember our barber chair talks,” said Iggy’s cousin Ed Deveau. “He was the salt of the earth and taken far too soon.
Aside from his business and customers, Iggy’s true love was his wife Anita, who tragically passed away in 2014 after a long bout with cancer as well as his children, Stephanie, Deanna, Vincent and Stacy and grandchildren Vincent, Nicholas, Sky and CialI.
“I’m so saddened to learn of the loss of Iggy Gerardi,” said State Rep. Adrian Madaro. “Iggy was a dear family friend for decades and my barber since childhood. He was filled with joy and brightened the world for all who knew him. He will be deeply missed. Rest in peace, my friend.”