Larry LaRue

Larry LaRue: Cosmetology student eccentric, but in the best way possible

Daniel Bacon is an eccentric.

Take last week. The Clover Park Technical College cosmetology student, who has tattoos all over his body, face and hands, was driving around after classes when saw a long-haired homeless man at the end of an offramp.

Bacon pulled over, grabbed his gear and asked the man if he’d like a haircut.

“I’m cutting his hair and this police car pulls over and parks and I’m thinking ‘I must be getting a ticket for something,’ ” Bacon said.

Instead, the cop brought Bacon, 31, a cup of coffee, then stayed to chat as the cut continued.

It’s the kind of thing that happens in Bacon’s life. On weekends, with 8-year-old daughter Madison Mae in tow, he often prowls the streets of downtown Seattle. He cuts the hair of the homeless — if they want it cut — for free.

“Everyone at Clover Park knows me, knows what I do,” Bacon said. “They inspire me and instruct me.”

When school maintenance worker Alan Mershon went to the cosmetology department at the Lakewood school asking if a student might be able to help him, it was no surprise the request was passed to Bacon.

Mershon’s 38-year-old stepdaughter, Sunny Day Wick-Holcomb, is in the final stages of multiple sclerosis.

He wanted someone to make a home visit to cut her hair.

“Sunny was diagnosed at 21 and got progressively worse. She has lived in our formal living room for eight years. We feed her; she has hospice help,” Mershon said.

“She rarely talks, but she still has a great spirit.”

Twenty-four hours later, Bacon called Mershon. He’d be happy to cut Sunny’s hair, and he wanted to know if he could bring along fellow student Misty Winesberry.

They wanted to make a spa day of it.

When the two arrived at the South Hill home of the Mershon family, it was a full house. Mershon and his wife, Debbie, were there, along with Sunny’s 11-year-old son, Evan.

Sunny was in her wheelchair, and the group moved her into the kitchen.

“I was speechless,” Alan Mershon said. “They spent about four hours with her, styling her hair, doing her fingers and toenails. Misty sat on the kitchen floor doing Sunny’s nails and talking to her. They even brought her flowers! They were so compassionate.”

Debbie Mershon went a step further.

“For Sunny, they were two angels,” she said.

Bacon and Winesberry had agreed their visit was to be complimentary, but when they were ready to leave, Alan Mershon handed Bacon a $20 bill.

Bacon gave it to Evan.

“Evan swept up the kitchen, was so helpful, so giving,” Bacon said. “There was a lot of love in that home. It was emotional. When Misty and I left, we cried.”

A month and a half later, Alan Mershon called and asked if they could visit again. There would be a noticeable difference this time, he told them.

“Sunny’s condition is deteriorating, even since they were here the first time,” Mershon said. “Doctors told us it could be a week, it could be a year.”

So Bacon and Winesberry made their second house call last week, and Sunny smiled when she saw them. The kitchen was turned into a salon, complete with chatter and happy laughter — most supplied by Bacon, Winesberry and young Evan, who also got his hair styled.

The conversation seemed, always, to be about Sunny — how beautiful her cut looked, how the natural makeup Winesberry applied made her glow.

In the end, it was agreed: Sunny looked like a young Audrey Hepburn.

Bacon leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. Sunny smiled and mouthed two words: “Thank you.”

“This has been one of the most special times in my life,” Bacon said later. “Here I am, covered in tattoos, and the family was so welcoming, so open. It’s just humbling, doing something for Sunny.”

Again, that’s just a part of Bacon’s life. Ask Winesberry.

“I’m one quarter ahead of Daniel, and I’m graduating next week; he’s got three months left,” she said. “Last year, we were having a hairstyling competition, and there were scholarships to be awarded.

“I was complaining about financial aid and how tough it was for me. Daniel said, ‘I don’t need the money. If I win, I’ll give the scholarship to you.’ The next day, he won and I was second runner-up. First place was a thousand-dollar scholarship. …

“On Monday I get a call from financial aid. They said they had a $1,000 scholarship added to my funds.”

The tattoos all over Bacon’s body, face and hands may fool some people. Not in the Mershon house.

“I asked for a haircut for Sunny and got to meet these two incredible people,” Alan Mershon said. “I feel lucky to know this guy.”

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