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Published: Sunday, 12/28/2008

Barber was north-end mainstay for 4 decades

Walter J. Wozniak, 78, a longtime barber who cut generations of people's hair at his North Toledo shop, died yesterday in Toledo Hospital, where he was admitted about two weeks ago because of bleeding in the brain.

After heart surgery 2 1/2 years ago, he and his wife, Sandy, moved in with their son, Russ, and his wife, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who is president of the Lucas County commissioners.

Mr. Wozniak retired for good about four years ago after a stint at Campus Barber Shop on West Bancroft Street.

He became "Walt the Barber," though, in 40 years as owner of Walt's Barber Shop at Elm and Kosciusko streets.

He was a Navy veteran of the Korean War. Returning to Toledo, "he decided to learn a trade and get his barber's license," his son said. "It was his love of conversation. He was a wonderful personality."

Most often, he was sole proprietor. He entertained patrons by playing classic Big Band

records of the swing era. Nearby at Elm and Central Avenue, his wife ran Sandy's Beauty Shop. She retired in 1986.

"They were artisans running their own businesses," their son said. "It was a good Polish neighborhood that we all enjoyed with our families and businesses and lives."

After retiring from their own shops, they cut the hair of fellow campground guests as they traveled the continent, from Florida to Alaska, their son said.

Mr. Wozniak in retirement was a janitor at Edgewater Elementary School.

He later was a guard at the Ann Manor in the Old West End and at the Ohio Building downtown. He made a point of conversing.

"People knew him and would say hello to him in the morning and goodbye at night," his son said.

Mr. Wozniak grew up in North Toledo and attended Woodward High School.

He left at 17 for the Navy, but later received his General Educational Development credential. When state officials conferred diplomas on Korean War-era veterans who did not finish high school, he and his family went to the ceremony at the University of Toledo's Scott Park campus.

"He was very, very proud," his son said.

He was a member of Gesu Church.

Surviving are his wife, Sandy, whom he married in 1949; daughter, Bonnie Miller; son, Russell Wozniak; five grandsons, and a great-grandson.

There will be no visitation, and services will be private. Arrangements are by the Newcomer Funeral Home.



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