Last Thursday afternoon, Molly Drayer, owner of Molly’s Flowers & More, hosted a belated 80th birthday and retirement party for Jack the Barber.
If you’re in Sunbury and you ask about Jack Kohler, many older village residents might have to think a moment before they reply, but if you say “Jack The Barber,” everyone would know instantly who you mean.
Jack the Barber was born in Ashley but said he’s originally from Marengo.
“I graduated in 1954 from Elm Valley High School,” Jack said. “I went to school in the same building, under the same roof for 12 years. My mom and dad went to the same school.”
Jack came from a farming family. He was a member of Ray Fife FFA at Elm Valley, and showed steers – Black Angus.
“After I graduated, I went to Columbus Barber College and started looking for a job,” Jack said. “Cecil Wintermute gave me a start in March of 1955. This town was right about one thousand people when I started. The year I moved in, Satterfield’s grocery store burned.”
Through the years Jack’s business has been at several locations around Sunbury Village Square – always called Jack the Barber. It was both a social gathering place. Back in the days before social media, if you wanted to catch up on local news and events, you didn’t log on to Facebook or check your tweets; you stopped for a visit at Jack’s barbershop.
“Every day was a conference in that shop,” Jack said. “I had the news before the newspaper had the news.”
Of course, Jack being Jack, he wasn’t always in the shop. He seldom took a vacation, but he would make house calls or go to nursing homes to cut hair. He cut one customer’s hair when the customer was in the hospital.
Jack said he even cut Gov. Kasich’s hair once. The governor wrote a phone number down and told Jack if he needed anything to just call. Asked if he ever called in the governor’s marker, Jack said, “Not yet.”
“I miss it every day,” Jack said. “I don’t see my old friends now. I still have a license. It expires Sept. 16, but I’m not going to renew it.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093