Ron Hurley sits in the chair of his Temperance, Mich., barbershop. He is leaving the trade because of a progressive case of arthritis.
TEMPERANCE -- After almost 43 years in the barber trade, one of Bedford Township's best-known residents has called it quits.
Ron Hurley closed his popular shop, the Razor's Edge, which he opened on Lewis Avenue by the Temperance Road intersection in 1978.
The decades of standing with arms raised to chest level as he trimmed hair left him with a painful and progressive case of arthritis in the pelvis and lower spine. His doctors told him it was time to put his scissors down. He agreed. The pain often prevented him from putting in the full work days to which he was accustomed.
The closed shop leaves a void in Temperance, where it was a gathering spot, and in the life of Mr. Hurley, who described his customers as being almost family members. They came from as far afield as Monroe, Toledo, Whiteford Township, and Petersburg to have their hair cut and to socialize.
"I have a lot of memories of people. I was doing four to five generations of haircuts," Mr. Hurley said. "A couple of years ago, the phone rang and it was a man in Cincinnati. 'You gave me my first haircut and I want you to give my son his first haircut,' he said. So he and his wife made a special trip up here, and the boy got his first haircut, along with a 'First Haircut' certificate."
He confesses to feeling tinges of guilt about his customers. "I feel I let them down," he said. "When you first start cutting hair, it's a job for the money. But that's not the case now. There are some people I don't even like to charge."
Not all his customers have gotten word of the closing. They continue to drop in even though Mr. Hurley and his wife, Bedford Township Trustee Gail Hauser-Hurley, have been busy cleaning the place out and putting the building up for sale or rent.
One of them, Gary Gretka, said Mr. Hurley became his barber when he moved to Temperance in 1990.
"He just gives a good haircut," Mr. Gretka explained. "It's hard to find a good, traditional barber any more. I always come back to Ron."
Gail Hauser-Hurley watches from behind the chair as her husband, Ron Hurley, brings memorabilia out of storage at the Razor's Edge, the shop he opened in 1978.
Mr. Hurley, 62, worked Tuesdays through Saturdays and averaged 20 customers a day. But many of those were drawn by more than his tonsorial skills, Mrs. Hauser-Hurley said. "People would come in and wait two hours for a haircut. They loved the discussions," she said.
She said her husband would often listen to customers' complaints about public services at the township and county levels and then pass them on to her. Mrs. Hauser-Hurley was a Monroe County commissioner from 1990 to 2002, representing part of the south county.
Mr. Hurley has been deeply involved in the Bedford community, volunteering to raise funds for organizations ranging from the schools to the Lions Club. Over the years, his shop reflected this community connection, displaying banners from Monroe County 4-H along with plaques of appreciation from Jackman Road Elementary School, the Bedford Township Goodfellows, and the Knights of Columbus, among others.
He's also a certified volunteer with the township fire department's Community Emergency Response Team, which responds to disasters. Volunteers undergo 20 hours of training in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and radio communications.
Mr. Hurley said the first-aid training was put to good use one working day a few years ago when a woman slammed her fingers in the door of her van, which was parked on Lewis.
"She came in for help with blood running down her left arm," he recalled. He phoned 911, then wrapped and applied pressure to her wound and held her arm up until the emergency crew arrived.
"A customer in my chair couldn't handle the blood. He ran out the door," Mr. Hurley said.
He and Mrs. Hauser-Hurley are originally from Monroe and married in 1970. They have two sons and five grandchildren. The couple moved to Bedford shortly after their marriage to be near his barbering work, which was in Lambertville for nine years before he opened his own shop.
Darrel Breininger, another customer, said he'll miss Mr. Hurley -- "He's one of the best."