Carolyn Dickson retiring after 51 years
Carolyn Dickson opener her salon, Carolyn’s Beauty Shop, in Ballinger in 1969. In the ensuing 51 years she has seen the community and her customers overcome challenges, grow, prosper, grieve, rejoice and more. Many of her customers have become mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers since her doors first opened, “Standing behind that chair, I’ve met a lot of great people and I love them all. That chair has been my pulpit for spreading the love of Jesus. I’ve cried with people and I’ve rejoiced with people right here.”
When Dickson opened her shop, the population of Ballinger was around 4,200. In 2018, the population was 3,631, but as others have come and gone, Dickson has remained strong, faithful and steadfast. Dickson attributes her success and work ethic to her father, Charles Lowry, “My daddy taught me to work and work hard. He had to quit school to help provide for his family. He lost an arm in an accident but that didn’t stop him. He only had one arm but he had work values and he had a family to provide for. I can only imagine what mother thought lay ahead of them when she agreed to marry a man with only one arm. There are still people who remember daddy and his work ethic. He worked all the time and in 2 or more jobs at a time to provide for the family. Daddy always said that the only thing he couldn’t do was clap hands.” Dickson’s mother was Desma Lowry. Her parents were both from Ballinger.
Dickson has carried those lessons and spirit from her father forward her entire life and they are interwoven in her business and her personal life, “Daddy taught me to respect people and to be honest. I’ve respected people for their feelings and I’ve loved them. I’ve gone through losses, divorces and hard times with the people who have sat in that chair. I was taught to be respectful. There are really good people in our world.“
Dickson’s husband, Gary, taught 6th grade for many years.
But, teaching and beauty work are just part of the Dickson’s lives. They are also part of the Kairos Ministry. The Kairos Christian Ministry, “Is an interdenominational Christian ministry that aims to address the spiritual needs of incarcerated men, women, youth, and their families.”
Gary and other Kairos members go into prisons and minister to the inmates, but not without cookies and goodies prepared by Carolyn and other women who are part of the ministry. The ladies who are in Kairos are called, “Outside angels,” since they can’t go into the prisons.
Dickson said that one aspect of their ministry has had a profound effect on inmates, love, “I saw you love me. It’s hard for someone to love if they’ve never been loved.” We hear that all the time. That passion for caring, and sentiment for the inmates is distinctly reflected in her eyes as she talks about Kairos. It’s apparent that when Dickson speaks, the sounds may come from her mouth, but the words come from her heart.
Dickson believes there is a greater reason for her work over the last 5+ decades, “I feel like I’ve been here this many years because God has been working through me. If you show integrity and love people, they’ll love you back.” This was apparent when I walked into her beauty salon for the interview. Patrick Duarte’ of Acapulco Restaurant, was there giving Dickson some flowers. Duarte’ is one of the many who will miss her as she retires and will continue to celebrate her friendship and love, “Patrick is like a son to me. I love him so much.”
Being part of Kairos seems prophetic as the word is Greek and means, “The right time,” or “Opportune moment.” The Dicksons just had a granddaughter born and on the next day they drove to Oregon to visit the newest addition to the family, “It’s really been difficult but I knew that this was the time to do retire.” Kairos.
Johnathan Woodbury, a barber, is purchasing the beauty shop from Dickson to continue on what she started in 1969; Showing love and appreciation for those around you, either the ones sitting in your chair or the ones standing there supporting you.
There will be a retirement reception for Dickson on Sunday, July 19th, at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Ballinger.