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Published: Wednesday, 3/28/2012

Daniel J. Graham, Jr., 1945-2012: Customers of barber in West Toledo were loyal


Daniel J. Graham, Jr., 66, a West Toledo barber with such a loyal following that his shop's only sign said "Open," died Saturday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

He shut his shop, Esquire Barbers, 4203 Lewis Ave., after he had a heart attack and two strokes in one day in May, 2010. He found out in short order he had kidney cancer and a congenital hole in his heart. He was recovering from those and other health problems when, in September, 2011, he learned the cancer had spread to his lungs, daughter Amy said.

He was a graduate of Whitmer High and the Toledo Barber College in the 1960s and went to work at Esquire Barbers, then on Phillips Avenue, which was run by Jim Reed, his sister Diane's brother-in-law.

In 1974, a nearby business wanted to expand, so the shop moved to Lewis. Mr. Reed retired, and Mr. Graham became the sole proprietor.

Esquire Barbers had two chairs, although Mr. Graham worked alone. Customers might notice evidence of Mr. Graham's fondness for Notre Dame football. A dollar bill or two on display represented sports bets won.

"It was very plain," his daughter said. "He was not about interior decorating."

Visitors, some the sons or grandsons of longtime patrons, knew he was in by his "open" sign. But there was no barber pole or other display to let the public know what business was conducted inside.

"He was that busy and had that many customers," his daughter said. "While he was sick, he said over and over again, 'I just miss the people.'

"People enjoyed going in and talking to him. He made so many friends that people kept coming in."

His shop sponsored softball teams for years and, until his 50s, he pitched for area teams. Before his illness, he golfed most days of the week.

He had a home on Sand Lake in Michigan's Irish Hills, a successor to the rustic cottage his father built in the 1930s. He was a member of St. Joseph Shrine Parish in the Irish Hills.

He was formerly married to Connie Edinger.

Surviving are his daughter, Amy DuVall; sons, Daniel III and Casey; sister, Diane Reed, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 1-7 p.m. Friday in Urbanski's Bedford Funeral Chapel, Temperance. Services will be at noon Saturday in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Temperance, where the body will be after 11 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the Sand Lake Property Owners Association, Onsted, Mich.

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

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