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‘Hope Cuts’ tribute to Judge Ustas raising funds to fight cancer

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Judge Deborah Ustas was so charitable that she inspired salon owner Lillian Lee to create the “Do Wonders” program, in which she refurbishes donated wigs and customizes them for women with cancer. So it was a terrible shock when Lee got a call asking for one of those wigs from the judge herself. This Sunday, Lee is dedicating her annual “Hope Cuts” charity event to Ustas, who died in June.

Lillian Lee (l.) with Rosa Holowen

“I had the pleasure of watching her climb the ladder of success, from a public defender to a founding partner of a law firm, to a well-respected judge,” Lee told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

(See: Judge went beyond the bench )

Although Ustas began as a client at Lee’s Teaneck salon, “our relationship quickly developed into a friendship,” she said. “She was an inspiration to me as a person and as a business woman.

“My number one cheerleader, Debbie pushed me to take on new challenges in business, while her generosity and support of several charities moved me to form my own.”

After receiving her diagnosis, Ustas called her good friend.

“She knew that if she felt good on the outside, it would help her feel better on the inside,” Lee said.

Superior Court Judge Deborah Ustas

“It was devastating to find out she had cancer,” but Lee was “honored that she chose me to help her maintain her identity and dignity through such a difficult time.”

It’s easy to see why the two grew so close. In the photograph with this story for instance, Lee poses with 18-year-old Rosa Holowen, who lost both of her parents to cancer and was diagnosed with bone cancer herself.

The day of her prom, Lee and her staff went to work, styling Rosa’s wig, doing her makeup. She would lose a leg a short time later but Rosa is now cancer free.

She was also prom queen, Lee boasted, proudly.

“Hope Cuts” is a fundraising event to support Cancer and HIV/AIDS research at City of Hope. All of the stylists are volunteers and the proceeds from all cuts, blowouts, massages, etc., go directly to City of Hope Cancer Research Center .

For more information: 201-837-6770, or email: .

Lillian Lee Salon

947 Teaneck Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666

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