Leroy the Tonsor has hung up his shears.

Leroy Geyer, who operated his Leroy the Tonsor barbershop for 53 years on First Street in Grove City, retired on Dec. 28.

"I've enjoyed it so much," Geyer said. "Especially all of the people I've gotten to know over the years.

"That's what makes being a barber so much fun," he said. "It's all the relationships you make. Over the years, your customers become like family."

It was a family member, his uncle, who encouraged Geyer to become a barber 61 years ago.

"I was attending school at Ohio State and looking for ways to make some money," he said. "My uncle was a barber, and he said, 'why don't you go to barber school?' "

Geyer said he took to the profession right away.

"I enjoyed being able to help people look their best," he said.

But it's the people themselves who make the profession special, Geyer said.

"You never get bored because of the people," he said. "You cut someone's hair over many years and you develop a bond with them. They become like your family.

"You share in their good times and you know when they are hurting. And they know when you're hurting," he said.

In 2005, Geyer had open heart surgery and had to close his shop for three months.

"Eighty-five percent of my customers came back when I reopened," he said. "That's a family."

For more than a half-century, Geyer said he tried to make his shop a friendly place to be.

"I have tried to develop an atmosphere that was placid and peaceful," he said. "I wanted a place where you left with a better attitude than the one you came in with. The games we played, all the teasing, were part of that."

In 1974, Geyer removed the television he had from his shop.

"I found that it created a distance between people," he said. "People weren't talking to each other. I didn't want that in my shop. It's the same thing you see these days with cellphones. People don't talk to other people as much."

His was "an old-fashioned barber shop" where people would stop by just to visit and talk about what was going on in the community, Geyer said.

Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage, who presented Geyer with a proclamation honoring him upon his retirement, said the barber shop "was a place I could come in and find out how I was doing.

"A barber shop like Leroy's is a big part of a community," Stage said.

Geyer said some of his customers started coming to his shop when they were youngsters and brought their children -- or grandchildren -- in for haircuts.

"I watched a lot of people grow up sitting in my chair," he said.

Barbering is still about knowing how to cut people's hair and knowing how to connect with them, Geyer said.

In most ways, the profession is the same as it was when he started six decades ago, he said.

One of the biggest changes came when longer hair started being fashionable, Geyer said.

"Oh, that was a crisis in the barber profession," he said. "Kids just weren't coming in to get their hair cut and a lot of barbers quit the profession. I stayed with it. I survived."

At 82, Geyer may be retired, but he will be busy.

"I've joined the YMCA and I love biking. I garden and I have 10 acres of land to take care of," the Jackson Township resident said.

"I believe if you aren't doing something and staying busy, you don't thrive and you die. Depression is just energy that needs to be released," he said.

"This is a great community," Geyer said. "It's been a joy to get to know the people here and help them when you can. You try to become a part of their life because they are a part of your life."

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