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About Face: A Post-Military Makeover

After a 20-year Navy career of uniforms, firearms and salutes, Dee Masciola lets her hair down

Courtesy of Dee Masciola
Courtesy of Dee Masciola,

by Dara Padwo-Audick

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While Dee’s father helped convince her to join the Navy, it turns out that her mom, Mary Lou, a licensed cosmetologist, was the inspiration for her second career. Dee hadn’t planned on moving back to Coraopolis—or joining the beauty profession for that matter—until just after Thanksgiving in 2001 when she found out that her mom had terminal brain cancer. She immediately drove home from her posting in Illinois to be with her mother, who died three weeks later. In her last moments, Mary Lou asked Dee to look after her dad. “There wasn’t anything that woman would ask me to do that I wouldn’t do,” Dee recalls.

After hanging up her uniform, Dee opened a tanning salon near the home she grew up in. Business was good. Life was good. There were a few unexpected twists. In 2004, soon after Dee met and started dating Steve Courson, a former two-time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steeler, she was recruited by the government to become an investigator and do background checks. She took the gig and sold the salon so that she could spend more time with Steve and her dad.

The timing was rotten. There were cutbacks and her job disappeared. Then, in November 2005, Steve Courson was killed while cutting down a tree in his yard. After that, Dee couldn’t work in a cubicle. Again inspired by and finding solace from the memory of her mother, she began doing nails, working for various local salon owners. In 2011 Dee opened her own full-service salon, La Bella Luna, two doors from her house. The salon is thriving, and she recently moved to a bigger space down the street. She sees her dad every day. And, like her mother before her, Dee is making women in Coraopolis beautiful.