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California barber celebrates 70 years of cutting hair

by Garrett Fuller | November 30, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — Roy Dean Simpson, left, poses for a photo with customer Norman Rohrbach on Monday at Simpson's barbershop, 511 N. High St., while celebrating the 70th anniversary of his shop. Simpson opened the shop Nov. 28, 1952, after an 18-month apprenticeship.

A lot has changed in 70 years.

Roy Dean Simpson hasn't.

Simpson cutting hair at his shop, 511 N. High St., has been a constant since he opened the doors Nov. 28, 1952. Exactly 70 years later, customers and friends helped him celebrate the milestone Monday.

Simpson said he opened the shop after an 18-month apprenticeship in his hometown of Crane following high school. He learned the shop was for rent after its previous owner died.

"I came up and talked to the lady who was (the) widow of the barber who died and she sold me the barbershop on the Monday before Thanksgiving 1952," Simpson said. "And I came to work here the day after Thanksgiving 1952."

Simpson said cutting hair is more than a job to him. It's a way for him to connect with others and brighten their day.

"It makes people happy if you can give them a good haircut, give them what they want," he said.

Simpson said being able to learn about others and helping them is one of his favorite parts of the job.

His shop also allowed him the opportunity to raise his children -- two sons and two daughters -- in a supportive community.

"They grew up here in California and my son mentioned last night what a wonderful place it was and (an) opportunity to grow up in California, Missouri," Simpson said. "It's such a nice little town with nice people."

Norman Rohrbach said Simpson is the only barber who has regularly cut his hair for the past four decades.

"I've just known Roy and his family since I was in school and (they're) just good people and good neighbors, and Roy's a great barber," Rohrbach said. "He knows just how I want my hair cut."

Simpson has no plans to retire, instead letting the man above make that decision.

"People ask me every few days 'When are you going to retire,'" he said. "And I say 'Well, when God tells me it's time to.' I don't have any timetable, but he does."

Much has changed in the 70 years since his shop opened, such as hairstyles and technology, but Simpson's love for his job hasn't changed.

"It's just been a wonderful 70 years for me and it's gone fast," he said. "... God's just been so good to me (and) to our whole family."

  photo  Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — Roy Dean Simpson has cut hair in the same quaint space for 70 years since opening his shop Nov. 28, 1952, at 511 W. High St. While much has changed in the decades since, Simpson's enjoyment of his job has not.

Print Headline: California barber celebrates 70 years of cutting hair


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