FAIRBORN — When long-time Fairborn barber Larry Deer passed away in January, he still had appointments written on his calendar.
“On Friday [Jan. 17] he left the shop without turning the ‘open’ sign off,” Deer’s son David Stokes said, adding that his father wasn’t feeling well when he left that day and was taken to a local cancer center for treatment.
By Sunday, Jan. 19, Deer had passed due to complications with cancer. Stokes said it was the third time Deer had battled cancer, but it had spread to multiple places within his body. He was 77 years old and married to his wife, Linda, for 44 years.
“It’s overwhelming and hard to believe,” Stokes said. “Every time I would come home, he would be here … I can’t come talk to him anymore and ask him for advice … He was hard on me at times, but sometimes I needed it.”
Deer served the community as a barber for 52 years, and Stokes predicts that nearly all members of the Fairborn community had received a haircut by his dad at one point. His first barbershop, located on Broad Street, was sold to him by Ernie Lewis, a former Greene County sheriff, after he was elected to the position. The most current barbershop where Deer worked, Hairkut, still stands on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.
“It’s like he’s still here,” Stokes said inside the barbershop. “It’s hard to believe he’s gone. I can feel his spirit here and it still smells like him.”
Deer owned several items that he proudly displayed within his barbershop, telling a story of who he was and the things he cared about. Stokes remembers coming into the barbershop after school, and how the camaraderie among the customers and employees reminds him of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. He shared that he would come into the shop as a child to help with cleaning duties to earn his allowance.
Deer’s son said he isn’t sure what will happen with the future of the shop.
“I could sell it to someone I’m comfortable with and know will take care of his customer base,” Stokes said. “I hate to see it go, it’s been here for a long time. I could also rent out the booths [to practicing barbers]. It’s up in the air.”
Stokes is open to ideas concerning the future of Hairkut and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Eventually Stokes would also like to host a local fundraiser in honor of his dad to benefit the American Cancer Society.
“He was an extraordinary man,” he said. “He would help people in the community, give them the shirt off his back even if he didn’t know them because that’s the type of person he was — a beautiful human being.”
Deer was involved with a number of community organizations, such as the Eagles, Moose and Elks. He also assisted Governor Mike DeWine with his first political campaign, among other local elected officials.
Stokes said his dad would give elderly folks who were unable to get out of the house a hand by going into their homes to cut their hair — for free.
“He was always there for me,” Stokes said. “Whether I was right or wrong — he never missed any games … He had a big heart and he was a hard worker … He was always there for everyone else whenever they needed help.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.