Editor’s note — This piece is a McPherson resident’s recollection of Ron Wolf, who passed away at age 75 on Feb. 6. Shortly after this piece was written, Wolf suffered a devastating stroke, which led to his retirement. Wolf sold Family Barber Shop to Caleb Porter of Fox & Ash in March 2016.
The first barber to cut my hair was a guy named “Jap.” I don’t know if that was his real name or not. I suspect it wasn’t. Neither was he Japanese.
His shop was in Palisade, Colorado. I remember how friendly he was and I never minded going for a haircut at all. When Pearl Harbor happened, it was rumored that a lot of men would not go to his shop anymore, just because of this name — another kind of victim of the war with Japan.
I have had many barbers since then, most of whom I cannot name. Every time we moved, we would get a new barber, and even though we didn’t move all that often, there were still a lot of new faces.
My favorite barber of all time is Ron Wolf. The first time we met, I was not aware that Ron was a barber at all. I took a new job that required a commute and because my job often included evening work, there were times when going home and coming back were not an option, so I stayed over.
One of the new friends I stayed with was divorced and had room at his place, which was both handy and free. This friend, Jim, often visited a club at the edge of town and one evening I went with him. The bartender was a guy named Ron and Jim and I both liked him a lot.
Later, after I had moved my family to town, I discovered that Ron was actually a barber, moonlighting as a bartender. Seems like a lot of us young family men worked extra hard to make ends meet.
Ron became my regular barber and then several years later, I learned that he opened his barber shop at 5 a.m. each work day. Talk about handy for a guy like me — as well as for dozens of other guys as well!
I took advantage of Ron’s early hours for 45 years and dreaded the need to find a barber with conventional hours. Ron had not indicated that I would need to start looking any time soon. He has long since reached retirement age, as have I, but he chooses to carry on.
Ron was more than my barber. We belong to the same church and both have certain leadership roles. Ron is also a good friend.
Over the years, I have watched his family grow into adulthood as he has mine. He still cuts my oldest son’s hair and if my younger son still lived here, Ron would probably be his barber and most likely his son’s also.
Ron and his wife suffered a great loss recently as their son was killed in an auto accident. My heart breaks for them; I can relate to them as my wife and I have been struggling with our daughter’s health over the last 10 years — she has a second liver transplant. There were times when we thought we would lose her and we thank God that she now seems to be in full recovery. I can only imagine the hurt of losing a child.
Ron held up well under the loss, he still opens at 5 a.m. each work day and serves at his church. One of the great attributes of America’s working class is their strength of character, their resilience under duress and their faith in God.
I see these things in Ron.
When I asked him why he would go through the trouble of opening up so early, he said that he had worked for another barber in another town who opened at 5 a.m. He recognized the need in the many working men and women who really appreciated the convenience of the early mornings, so it was the trademark of his shop. I’m retired and have the time to get my hair cut anytime, but like I said, I would hate to change now.
Thanks Ron! Thanks for being a true servant of the people. I’m proud to claim you as my favorite barber.
Bob Gibson is a resident of McPherson