Obituary: Anthony Frank Ilardo, Jr.

Anthony Frank Ilardo, Jr., a man with a warm, generous heart, a wonderful sense of humor and a smile bigger than life, left us all too soon March 17, 2016 after an exceptionally valiant two-year struggle with cancer.

Having been a beauty salon owner and hair designer for more than 50 years, Mr. Ilardo said, “The Lord must want me in heaven to do the angels’ hair.”

This kind man whom everyone loved, was born in New York City 73 years ago to Mary and Anthony Ilardo Sr. and was raised in Brooklyn. An accomplished artist, he graduated from the School of Art and Design in Manhattan before enlisting in the Army in 1963. Mr. Ilardo was stationed in Bamberg, Germany with the 7th Artillery in a Hawk missile unit. After his discharge, he attended beauty school, where he met his first wife, Sabina Caci. Married in 1969, they had three children – Kenneth, Ann and Edward. The couple owned a beauty salon in Brooklyn until moving to Tempe in 1976.  

Employed at the time by Seligman & Latz, the world’s leading operator of beauty salons, Mr. Ilardo was transferred to Arizona to oversee all of their beauty salons in Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Joseph Magnum, Goldwater’s, and The Emporium in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona. After leaving Seligman & Latz, Mr. Ilardo opened The Gazebo at Fifth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, where he did hair for several years until his divorce in 1986. At that time, he moved to Peoria and opened Ilardo’s, A Salon.

In 1992, he married Paula Brictson and they enjoyed 24 wonderful years together, during which time, they took several cruises, visited China and spent many years living on Arrowhead Lake, where Mr. Ilardo loved to go out each evening on his pontoon boat to watch the sunset. Everyone loved Mr. Ilardo and all were drawn to his charismatic personality, so their circle of friends was wide.

But their happiest times were spent at their summer home in Groom Creek in Prescott for all of those 24 years. Every summer weekend found the devoted couple at their cabin, where this talented man built several small buildings on their land and spent hours riding around Groom Creek on his Kawasaki getting to know so many people that they affectionately called him the “mayor.”

An avid gardener, Mr. Ilardo created a glorious walk-through garden on their land with winding paths, a grape arbor, pond, party deck, and wishing well that passers-by thought was a community park. Many hours were spent drinking wine, eating pasta and telling jokes with their family and close friends and neighbors in that beautiful garden, which will serve as a living memorial to all who knew him.

During his years in the salon business in Arizona, Mr. Ilardo had a devoted clientele, many of whom had been with him 35 years, when he finally retired in 2013, just before falling ill.

Mr. Ilardo was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, John; and his daughter, Ann. A devoted husband and father, he leaves his cherished wife, Paula; his beloved sons Kenneth and Edward; a granddaughter, Sabina Howard; two great-granddaughters; and a dear cousin, Rosemary Farrell, and her husband, Jimmy.

The family wishes to thank Southland Home Healthcare for their wonderful service.