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Monclova Township resident Bob Wagner, 51, can recall just three times since he was 13 that he allowed someone other than his most trusted barber, Cliff Haas, to come near his head of hair.
And those times were because of circumstance, rather than choice.
“There is not a lot to work with and only Cliff can make it presentable,” Mr. Wagner said about returning time and again to Mr. Haas.
Mr. Wagner sat in Mr. Haas’ barber chair at the Hair Depot, 5431 Monroe St., Sylvania Township chatting, smiling, laughing, while he clipped and tapered his hair on Monday. He requested to be Mr. Haas' last customer. Mr. Haas, 71, hung up his shears that day after 50 years of cutting men’s hair.
Mr. Wagner conceded that the memorable conversations, about girls, life, and any debauchery he got into as a young man were reasons why Mr. Haas was more than a barber to his customers. He was a friend.
“I don’t have customers. I have friends,” Mr. Haas said.
He came to Sylvania from Michigan not knowing anyone. He originally lived in Ida, Mich. He began to build his client relationships through Joe Giovanucci, known by all as Joe Gio, a real estate agent, now deceased.
“Everytime he sold a house, he sent his customers to me,” Mr. Haas said. “When I started out, my customers were young and they would tell me things they wouldn’t tell their parents.
That trust, plus the respect he earned among the Jewish clientele, kept him busy with haircuts and staying with the trade even though he closed doors of two shops he owned for 35 years of his barbering career.
For about 17 years, he rented a chair at the Hair Depot, and has kept the other hairstylists laughing and brightening their day.
Julie Allard, 53, was originally hired by Mr. Haas when she was 21 and he owned Hair Quarters in Starlite Plaza.
“I’m gonna miss the stories, his great sense of humor, the compassion he had for people," she said. "I learned how to build my business from him … he brightens up the day. He’s the bright spot. I cannot imagine him not being here.”
Mrs. Allard recalled fond memories of Mr. Haas as she cut Sylvania resident Katie Morris’ hair.
Said Mrs. Morris: “He cut my sons hair when he was 2. It was his first haircut.”
Now 31, Michael still sees Mr. Haas for a hair trim, Mrs. Morris said.
Gary Weaver, 64, owner of Hair Depot, said Mr. Haas treated everyone like family.
“He was always friends, more [so than business] clients with the customers. His personality is what you would expect from someone with small-town humble beginnings.”
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.