Parents of Nohemi Gonzalez, student killed in 2015 Paris attacks, open barbershop in Norwalk
By William Odis Martin
NORWALK – Beatriz Gonzalez finds solace in keeping busy, cutting and styling men’s and women’s hair.
She is an entrepreneur, a hardworking mother of three, and an inspiration to anyone who has a dream of starting a business.
As an immigrant from Mexico and a single mother for most of her life, she had to overcome many obstacles to be as successful as she is today.
Beatriz is the owner of three barber shops--Imperial Barber Shops 1, 2, and 3 in Norwalk.
With a heaviness in her heart that nobody should have to bare, Beatriz continues trying to live life to the fullest just like her biggest inspiration would want her to do.
Nohemi Gonzalez, Beatriz’s 23-year-old daughter, was killed during the November 2015 Paris Attacks while studying abroad.
She was the only American out of the 130 people who lost their lives to the heavy artillery of nine ISIL gunmen that night in the city of lights.
“I think that I try to keep myself busy so that I don’t think too much about what happened. By working too much, it helps takes my mind away,” says Beatriz. “Everyday is better. Less pain.”
It was unlike the scores of tragedies that constantly stream into our collective consciousness. This one shook the community at its core.
A first generation Chicana with every bit of drive and smarts to become a beacon for the community, extinguished before she could fully bloom by blood-thirsty extremists.
A beautiful young woman with such a bright future and an unmatched determination to succeed seemed to be an unbeatable combination.
She will remain an inextinguishable light in the Chicano community by keeping her memory alive.
Nohemi was an excellent example of someone who knew how to get the most out of life. A studious go-getter with wanderlust and a passion for design. She had hopes of one day spreading her love for knowledge to future generations.
Nohemi’s undeterrable spirit has transmogrified into the fuel that keeps the flame alive inside her mother, Beatriz.
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Two weeks ago, the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce joined Beatriz and her husband Jose Hernandez in the ribbon cutting ceremony of their third shop, Imperial Barber Shop 3 located at the intersection of Firestone and Pioneer.
Beatriz keeps Nohemi’s memory alive with pictures of her daughter in all three locations. Nohemi painted the walls of Imperial Barber Shop No. 2 just a few months before her death.
Today, alongside some of Beatriz’s favorites is a letter from former President Barack Obama that graces the walls that she proudly painted for her mom’s shop.
“She wouldn’t want to see me be depressed or sad and not moving forward. So that’s one of my reasons why in my mind that she could continue to be apart of me. I will continue to honor her memory by continuing to tell her story to the community and show anything is possible,” says Beatriz as tears bubble up from her eyes but never spill down her cheeks.
It has been a year and a half since that fateful night in Paris, and everyday since, Beatriz has been staying busy just like her daughter was and would want her to be.