Obituary: Rohn Neugebauer / Founder with partner of Ross salon and spa

May 1, 1965 - March 16, 2014

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Rohn Neugebauer preferred to live life out loud.

Whether he was joking with customers at the Ross salon/spa he founded with longtime partner Dan Burda, or making funny online videos to promote their business, Mr. Neugebauer cut a memorable profile.

"Rohn was such a dedicated person to his family and friends, the type of guy who kept in touch. Some people move on from your life, but Rohn had a sense of commitment," said his sister, Sandy Schultheis of Franklin Park.

"If you needed something, you could call on Rohn and he'd never tell you 'no.' "

Mr. Neugebauer and Mr. Burda were having dinner at their friends' house when he experienced a fatal heart attack. He was 48.

"Earlier, we were just talking about [the friends starting] a business and saying, 'Life is short, you've got to do it,' " Mr. Burda said.

Mr. Neugebauer was a Fifty Finest member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Class of 2012, which raised a record $330,000 that year. Mr. Burda was a 2011 Fifty Finest member, and both were on the planning committee for the organization's annual Masked Diamond Bash, which will be held Saturday at the Wyndam Grand Hotel, Downtown.

There will be a memorial segment at the gala, and Mr. Burda -- true to the couple's love for taking center stage -- said he hopes to sing as a video of Mr. Neugebauer plays out on a big screen.

"It was something Rohn was very passionate about," said Lynda Schneider of event host Pittsburgh Global Connection.

In his Facebook tribute, Mr. Burda added: "That was Rohn's baby, that was his passion, and our Studio RAW team and community is going to take it there, in Rohn's honor."

The two had created a weekly miniseries of videos centered around their studio at www.therawboys.com, and Mr. Burda recorded a short video for his Facebook page that has been widely shared.

Mr. Neugebauer grew up in Franklin Park, was an Air Force veteran and spent nearly 17 years as a real estate agent near Harrisburg. He eventually returned to Pittsburgh, where he and Mr. Burda met at a gym eight years ago.

"We hit it right off," Mr. Burda said. "Rohn is the one who inspired me to go into beauty school."

The foundation for Studio RAW began in their Shaler home.

"I started doing hair out of our house, and when my [appointment] book began to grow, Rohn said 'I can't have people sitting in our dining room and living room anymore.' "

Their Babcock Boulevard salon grew from 700 square feet to more than 3,000. But in May 2012, Studio RAW burned down. It was rebuilt as Studio RAW 2.0, an 8,000-square-foot facility featuring hair, makeup and nails as well as a day spa.

The couple co-owned the company with Mr. Burda's mother, LaRaine Burda, who used to spell her name Lorraine.

"When she went through her mid-life crisis, she added that extra fancy-ness," her son said with a laugh, adding this might have been an inspiration for Mr. Neugebauer adding the letter "h" to his first name.

"Rohn was the teaser of the family; he could pick on you pretty good," Mrs. Schultheis said. "Trust me, when he started inserting that 'h' in his name, we let him have it. But he will always be 'Ronnie' to me."

Mr. Neugebauer also is survived by parents Joan and James Neugebauer of Franklin Park and brothers Jim of Avalon, Bob of Franklin Park and Tom of Whitehall.

A funeral service is planned for 1 p.m. today at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Mount Royal Boulevard, Shaler. The family suggests donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Chapter, 810 River Ave., Suite 100, Pittsburgh 15212.


Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478.


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