Longtime Republic fixture ‘John the barber’ passes from scene

Steve Chapman

John Parker in his very early barber years, and later years, in the business.

John C. Parker operated local Main Street barber shop for 55 years; farmed on side
On Tuesday, Jan. 11, John C. Parker—John the barber—a well-known and well-liked member of the Republic community, left this world when he died peacefully in his sleep.

Earlier years
John was born to a farming family in the Golden City-Lockwood area. He worked on his family farm and for a construction company before going to Kansas City with his brother, Stanley, where they attended the Moler Barber College. After graduating from Moler, John chose to stay in Kansas City. It was there he met his wife, Margie, and they were married in 1960 and had their two daughters, Lori and Kelly.
Five years later, he moved his family to Republic where he opened his own barbershop, which he would continue to operate for 55 years. He and Margie also had two more children, John Parker, Jr. and Joe.

Hard work, love for family marked John’s life
John Parker, Jr., said his father employed the work ethic—which he’d learned growing up on his family farm—by working 12-hour days at his barbershop, after which he would work on a small farm he owned.
“All through us kids going to high school and college, he worked whenever the people were there,” Parker, Jr. said. “And some people don’t realize it, but when he got out of the barbershop, he’d go to work on his small farm. He was one that worked from daylight to dark.”
While working on a farm after spending 12 hours on his feet was certainly no easy undertaking, John was motivated to do so because he wanted to take care of his wife and children.
“He liked people, and he liked providing for his family,” Parker, Jr. said. “That was his goal in life, providing and being of service to family.”
While John worked very hard, Parker, Jr. said his father greatly enjoyed what he did for a living.
“I think he enjoyed the people,” Parker said. “He enjoyed talking to and meeting people, so that helped the part in the shop. And … he liked working the farm; he liked his cows. He liked that business.”

John made time for family
Still, John was not all work and no play. Parker said his fondest memories of his father include “family basketball games” and get togethers where family was always celebrated.
“We would have our monthly get togethers over at Mom and Dad’s house,” Parker, Jr. said. “We would celebrate all the birthdays and holidays and whatever else of the month together. We’d have three or four birthdays and a holiday all mixed in. We’d have big to-dos there (with) hand-cranked ice-cream.”

Came to Republic to start own barbershop
Parker, Jr. said his father chose to come to Republic because he wanted to be self-employed.
“He was in Kansas City barbering, (and) he wanted his own shop,” Parker, Jr. said. “There were not many to be bought, and there was one in Lockwood, and there was one in Republic, and he chose Republic.”
While the Lockwood barbershop would have been closer to John’s hometown (his younger brother, Rex, went on to take ownership of that shop), Parker, Jr. said his father chose Republic, in part, to please Margie.
“Mainly, it was a small town, and it was near Springfield,” he said. “And my mom, who lived in the Kansas City area, had visited SMS (now MSU) and had seen what a lovely town Springfield was, so when Dad mentioned Republic by Springfield, she said ‘Yes,’ without considering anything else. She wanted to move down to this area.”
John retired from barbering in June of 2020, due to health issues. His son Joe, who had been working with him since March of 2004, took over his barbershop and still continues to run the Main Street business as "John's Barbershop."

A life well lived
One noteworthy fact about John’s barbershop was that he never had a phone installed in it. Parker, Jr. said that was because “he didn’t want to be bothered by it.”
“There were no appointments,” Parker said. “You just walked in (and) stuck your head in the door.”
Reflecting on his father, Parker, Jr. said John would be remembered for the happiness he brought to his family, friends and customers.
“I’d have to say there’s an awful lot of fond memories of all the smiles that he made,” Parker said. “He liked for people to smile. He would say anything to get you to laugh.”
Parker, Jr. also said he would always remember the example his father set for him in life.
“He lived well, and he loved well.”

John retired from barbering in June of 2020, due to health issues. His son Joe, who had been working with him since March of 2004, took over his barbershop and still continues to run it as "John's Barbershop."


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