The owner of a hair salon in Palo Alto's California Avenue business district was found deceased in her shop Tuesday morning, just weeks before she planned to retire, according to nearby business owners.
Forbes died of natural causes, the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office said on Wednesday.
A client who came for a haircut found Forbes lying on the floor by the front window, and the door was locked, said Carole Brunning, owner of Alexander's Dog Grooming down the street. She and groomer Denise Souza ran to assist her. Brunning then ran to the back of the business in search of another entrance and Souza called 911, Souza said.
Souza, who often arrives at around 7 a.m., said that Forbes could often be seen early in the morning sitting by a round wooden table near the window while going over her paperwork. She would often be at her shop before Souza arrived, she said.
Brunning said she was probably deceased when they arrived.
"She was laying on the floor by the window and she looked like she was unconscious. She was not moving, and she didn't seem to be breathing," Brunning said.
Palo Alto Fire Department paramedics arrived at about 8:12 a.m. Palo Alto police investigators secured the scene for several hours, but they found nothing suspicious, Sgt. Rich Bullerjahn said.
Forbes' salon was open by appointment only, and it was known for its quirky decor, which included vintage hair-styling tools and old photographs.
Mary Cudahy, a longtime client, said that Forbes spoke about being in the business since the 1970s. Cudahy frequented the salon until moving away in 2000. She was visiting Palo Alto on Tuesday and had stopped by to say hello to Forbes as she was passing by, she said.
"She was very detail oriented -- she was meticulous," Cudahy recalled. "She took her time; she was never rushed like in other places. She never pushed any products on you."
Forbes was planning to retire and close her business at the end of March, Brunning and others said.
"She was here before me, and I've been here for 33 years. It's very sad. To think that somebody's worked hard all these years and they get ready to retire and they die. She was a very nice lady. She was well liked in the area," she said.
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