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Published: Thursday, 3/8/2012

Lee Liddell, 1924-2012: Well-dressed barber served generations of families

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lee Liddell, a barber who kept generations of Toledo men well-groomed, died March 1 in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 87.

Mr. Liddell of West Toledo died from complications of strokes suffered in December and on Feb. 25, his daughter Beverly said.

He retired from Liddell's Barbershop in 1996, then in the 900 block of Junction Avenue. He opened the shop 46 years earlier in the heart of Toledo's black community along the 1000 block of Dorr Street.

Customers who climbed into Mr. Liddell's big red chair for their first haircuts by the end had introduced the barber to their sons and grandsons. Children from families without the means to pay got free back-to-school haircuts.

He did have customers who whiled away the hours in the shop, but fewer than in some places, daughter Janice said.

"Daddy wore a suit and tie and put his barber smock on over that, so his shop was a little more serious than all that hanging out," she said.

Urban renewal was the reason given when businesses on Dorr were cleared in the 1970s. He moved reluctantly.

"He did not like it at all," daughter Janice said. "Dorr Street was very vibrant. He had solidified clientele, and it was a wonderful spot."

He was born Dec. 24, 1924, in Grenada, Miss., to Jannie and Charlie Liddell. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, he was in the Army Air Corps and served stateside with a unit of the famed all-black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.

He came to Toledo to be near Euneda Golliday, a recent transplant whom he began courting in Mississippi.

He received training in his trade from Toledo Barber College. He took classes at the University of Toledo "so he could be a business man," daughter Janice said. They worked side by side in the shop until she became a Toledo schoolteacher.

He made bookcases and cabinets, including those in his shop. He had a darkroom for his family photos, and he was a home winemaker.

He and his wife traveled the world, including to Zambia, to visit granddaughter Stacey in the Peace Corps. He traveled solo, though, to hear Martin Luther King, Jr., at the 1963 March on Washington.

He joined Third Baptist Church in 1950 and was on the men's council and the senior usher board. He was named 2006 "father of the year."

Surviving are his wife, Euneda, whom he married Jan. 17, 1948; daughters Gladys Legree, Janice Liddell-Alberga, Beverly Liddell-Smith, and Faika Patricia Damon Golliday Liddell Munirah; son Lee Liddell, Jr.; brothers Hoover, William, and Dr. Felix Liddell; 14 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home Chapel. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Third Baptist Church, where wake services will begin at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the Third Baptist Church scholarship fund.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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