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El Continental Barber Shop, home to Lute Olson's famous head of hair

"His hair was kind of his signature."
Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 21:18:04-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — El Continental Barber Shop is where Lute Olson received a haircut every three weeks for 36 years. His friend and shop owner, Dale Radtke, said it’s still hard to believe Olson is gone.

"He was blessed by the hair fairy - I always said. His hair is kind of his signature,” said Radtke.

The first time Olson came into El Continental was after his wife, Bobbi, asked around for recommendations. That was more than three decades ago.

"He got a haircut and a manicure every time. He was extremely well-groomed. He paid attention to detail to the max, he was always impeccably dressed,” said Radtke.

He pointed out Olson's favorite chair was chair No. 1 and where Radtke says their friendship started; being a part of many highs in Olson's life.

"I remember the first final four we were at the gym, with many thousands of people. And then also in the second final four, we were with him. And then we won the National Championship,” said Radtke.

But also, during the lows; like when Bobbi was diagnosed with cancer.

"He came back from Europe and he wanted to be alone in the barbershop and I met him at 7 o'clock in the morning. And then finally a couple of years later, I guess it was, she passed away. Those were tough times, but you know, there were also many more good times, for sure,” said Radtke.

Olson treated Radtke and his staff like family. Always lighting up the room when he came in for his signature cut.

"I have almost every poster that he had out and he signed every one of them. And he used to sign basketballs for kids that came. He loved kids,” said Radtke.

Radtke says there's not a moment that’s gone by where he hasn't thought of Olson since his passing. Even during something simple, like driving down the street.

"And I saw an 18-wheeler backing up. When he was at Long Beach City College, in order to supplement his income, he had to work as a truck driver in the summertime. I have many stories about Lute and I'll always remember him,” said Radtke.

Olson is remembered as the man who put Tucson on the map, a legendary Wildcat with an impressive head of hair, and as a mentor.

"It's hard to even think that he's gone. He's not gone. As a teacher, your product keeps going after you're gone. That's what a teacher does, and he was excellent at it. We will miss him,” said Radtke.