WEST FARGO — Across the region, members of different communities are sharing tributes and raising funds after the death of a friend.
Bismarck native and West Fargo resident Johnny Grey died in a West Fargo car crash late Saturday, June 22.
A much-loved hair stylist, beard advocate, football player and all-around nice guy, the 38-year-old’s death prompted memorials from friends from all walks of his life.
“Anyone who has been to Blush Salon over the past 6 years has likely had the pleasure of crossing paths with Johnny,” the Fargo salon where he worked posted to its Facebook page. “He was unbelievably talented, had a special knack for telling Dad jokes (and he was the most incredible Dad!), and was an integral part of our team that will never be replaced.”
“New to the team in 2018, he made a big impact in our community with what he brought to us in this short amount of time as a player, board member, and friend,” local football team the Fargo Invaders posted to its Facebook site.
“Johnny Grey, thank you for everything you did to help with F5 Project. Thank you for supporting us early on, and helping me,” posted F5 Project, a nonprofit organization that helps people with criminal backgrounds get a new start.
Customers, media groups, former employers and colleagues, a tattoo shop in Mandan, N.D., and a facial hair group in Sioux Falls, S.D., all offered remembrances and condolences online for the West Fargo man.
With long dreadlocks, broad shoulders and a barrel chest, Grey may have seemed like an ominous figure at first glance, said Gabe Rheault, who worked next to him at Blush in Fargo.
“He looked like an imposing dude,” Rheault said. “Johnny was the warmest, most open person.”
The two first met 16 years ago when the person Rheault was supposed to shadow at a salon wasn’t interested in showing him around, so Grey stepped in, took the aspiring stylist under his wings and showed him the ropes.
“That’s what he was like. Instantly warm, instantly familiar,” said Rheault.
Over the years, Rheault got to know Grey as an artist as dedicated to his craft as he was to his clients.
“He was a very passionate cosmetologist. You couldn’t put him in a box. He was pretty nerdy about cosmetology,” Rheault said.
In the hairstyling community, Grey also worked as an instructor and would often offer pointers to colleagues and patrons. He had just been invited to New York Fashion Week this fall.
“He was someone who showed you how to love your own hair,” Rheault said. “To have someone teach you to make yourself look and feel better about yourself, that means a lot.”
Grey had just marked his sixth anniversary at Blush.
While his clientele may have been mostly women, Grey was a beard advocate and had recently established Beard Associates of North Dakota, wanting to bring facial hair competitions to the area.
“It was his way to create a community, which is what he was all about,” Rheault said.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up to raise $15,000 for Grey’s wife and daughter to help cover final expenses. More than $8,700 was donated by noon Friday. Radio station Big 98.7 is also raising funds for the family through its Big 98.7 Christmas Wish site.