PORTAGE PARK — Vincent Mastromauro loved to regale friends and customers with tales of what Six Corners was like in its heyday, not long after he opened Villa Roma Salon & Spa on Cicero Avenue.
There were so many customers, it was like a Fourth of July parade every day, he would say, as shoppers came from all over the city searching for their hearts' desire at dozens of stores.
Mastromauro, who helped found the Six Corners Business Association in an effort to restore the shopping district to its former glory, died July 7 at 81 after suffering from cancer for 10 years.
"Sadly, he will not see it happen, but he helped get us closer to that goal," said Ed Bannon, the association's president. Mastromauro "believed in Six Corners when few others did."
In an email message to 45th Ward residents, Ald. John Arena praised Mastromauro for his service to the Portage Park community.
"Many of the improvements we have seen at Six Corners in recent years are the result of his hard work and dedication," Arena wrote.
Mastromauro opened his salon at 3936 N. Cicero Ave. in September 1977, after coming to America from the Bari region of Italy.
Mastromauro "embodied the American Dream through his hard work, dedication to his craft, and support of his community," Arena wrote.
In April, Arena and the Chicago City Council honored Mastromauro for his work on behalf of businesses at Six Corners and for "making certain that the Six Corners community and Chicago at large remain well coiffed."
Mastromauro encouraged business owners at Six Corners to work together, patronize each other's shops and always wave when they passed by, Bannon said.
"He will be remembered for his love, his self-reliance and the twinkle in his eye," Bannon said.
Mastromauro is survived by his wife of 57 years, Nina, and his six children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His son Michael and granddaughter Nina now run the salon, Bannon said.
Services have been held.