Papa Shaw, a.k.a. Jamison Shaw passes at 87.

Papa Shaw, a.k.a. Jamison Shaw passes at 87. 

Jamison Shaw (known to family and friends simply as ‘Papa’), age 87, was born on a farm in rural Tennessee in 1936 during the height of The Great Depression.  There, in a one-room schoolhouse, he received an 8th grade formal education.  Shaw learned to cut hair in the U.S. Air Force, after which he pursued a career as a beautician.

In 1960, at age 24, Shaw opened his first salon in Atlanta.  It was so exclusive at the time the phone number was unlisted.  

A world champion competition hairdresser, Shaw’s closest friends included the likes of Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell, and Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda. 

Shaw would say: “We all knew and competed against each other back when we were so broke not one of us had two dimes in his pocket to rub together!” 

In 1962, Shaw rose to prominence as the first American to win hairdressing’s Grand World Supreme Championships in Holland in the Marcel Iron competition.  Prior to that time, the century-old honor had only been won by the great European stylists. 

Jamison Shaw with his trophy and model  from the Grand World Supreme Championships in 1962.

Jamison Shaw with his trophy and model  from the Grand World Supreme Championships in 1962.

Returning home as America’s first World Champion, Shaw appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show (where the Beatles and Elvis Presley both debuted) and in Time magazine.  Shaw remained at the forefront of the international hairdressing scene ever since and is widely regarded as one of the top hairstylists of the 20th century.

While too numerous to list, some of the many honors and awards bestowed upon Shaw include induction into the National Cosmetology Association’s "Hall of Fame" (his friend Vidal Sassoon presented him the award), Shaw was the first recipient of Aveda’s ‘Master of the Arts’ award (given by Horst), as well as Intercoiffure’s ‘President’s Award.' MODERN SALON magazine named him one of the top educators of the 20th Century.  And the State of Georgia conveyed the state’s Distinguished Service award on him, presented by U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.

In 2015, Jamison Shaw appeared on the cover of SALON TODAY, alongside his daughter Candy Shaw...

In 2015, Jamison Shaw appeared on the cover of SALON TODAY, alongside his daughter Candy Shaw and grandson Jamison Shaw Codner on a story about hairdressing families and salon succession. 

For nearly 50 ytears, in the 5,000 square-foot, fifty-chair salon in Atlanta that bears his name, Shaw personally trained generations of young stylists.  He was a highly sought after industry performer and speaker who touched the lives of countless beauty professionals and was considered by thousands as their mentor.  In addition to headlining beauty shows, in the early days of his career Shaw was called upon from time to time to perform hairdressing exhibitions for the general public at State Fairs, where in Kentucky he once shared the stage with Elvis.

Shaw had an uncanny ability to simplify problems and communicate practical, down-to-earth solutions to clients, salon owners and hairdressers alike.  Remembered for his legendary ‘Jamison Shaw-isms’—one-line sayings chock-full of wisdom and stories or jokes evoking uproarious laughter; Jamison was like E.F Hutton, ‘when Jamison spoke, people listened!’  

He was known for his emphasis on family, and although his business was large, he always put a sense of family, community, and loyalty first.   For nearly five decades Shaw ran the business with the help of his late wife, Sara--a make-up artist and business manager, and later his daughter, Candy Shaw, who along with her son Jamison Codner, is leading their third-generation family business into the next millennium.

Jamison Shaw styles daughter Candy Shaw's hair. Candy Shaw now leads Jamison Shaw Hairdressers...

Jamison Shaw styles daughter Candy Shaw's hair. Candy Shaw now leads Jamison Shaw Hairdressers in Atlanta and is the founder of Sunlights. 

Some of Jamison’s contributions seen by the world include Burt Reynolds’s and Jon Voight’s hair for the movie Deliverance, First-Lady Rosalyn Carter’s hair, anchorperson Lynne Russell’s hair--the original face of CNN, the Atlanta Falcon’s Cheerleaders hair for Super Bowl XXXIII and country music legend Kenny Rogers, who might best be described as a ‘kindred spirit.. In addition to styling hair, Jamison loved to golf, fish, read, travel and spend time with his family.

Shaw is survivesd by his brother Don Shaw, three children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. 

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 29, 2023 at 11:00 AM EST at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, 3180 Peachtree Road N.W., Atlanta, GA 30305, (404) 266-2373, with a reception at the church immediately following. 

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you please consider making a donation to Beauty Changes Lives, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide cosmetology school scholarships to aspiring beauty professionals to help ensure the future of the beauty industry he so loved. To contribute, please CLICK HERE

You may also share your memories or condolences with the family at


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Originally posted on Salon Today

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