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updated: 2/13/2013 8:26 AM

Roy Carr still cutting hair at age 80

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  • Roy Carr at Roy and Ruth's Barber & Beauty Shop in Oakland, Ill.

      Roy Carr at Roy and Ruth's Barber & Beauty Shop in Oakland, Ill.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

OAKLAND -- Children first. Roy and Ruth Carr had this philosophy in 1970 when they decided to uproot their family from the Chicago area and move to the small town of Oakland where he grew up.

It was the beginning of their lifetime together in the profession of cutting and styling men's and women's hair.

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Roy, who celebrated his 80th birthday Jan. 27, continues to work at his shop in Oakland after first becoming a barber in 1960, and later opening Roy and Ruth's Barber and Beauty Shop in Oakland in 1970.

"He feels good," said Mike, Roy's son. "He loves what he does, and he's good at it."

Ruth died on March 30 of last year, after working alongside her husband for 42 years. They were married for 59 1/2 years when she died.

"They spent every day together," said Mike. "Even when she was in the hospital, he was up there at least for a portion of the day. They were never apart. She was the perfect mom and wife."

The Carrs' business was first located on the south side of the square in Oakland. They bought a 24-foot-wide building and split it down the middle, Roy said. The business in later years moved to the east side of the square.

In his young adult years, Roy worked as a barber in Decatur, Pekin and Chicago. Ruth began working as a hairstylist in 1965 in Chicago as well.

There were a lot of racial problems in the Chicago schools, Roy said. It wasn't long before he and Ruth decided rather than subjecting their three children to the controversies, they felt it best to move to the small town of Oakland to raise them.

Their son, Mike, who works for Caterpillar, said his parents were both from Wilmington, where they met. He said his dad was born in Richey.

Upon entering the barber and beauty shop, Mike said, customers would find his mom's work area was to the right, and his father's to the left, where Roy continues to work today.

Prior to cutting hair, Roy said he worked at a Caterpillar plant in Joliet and soon found he didn't enjoy it.

Because he was able to go to barber school on the GI Bill from his time in the Army in 1952-53 during the Korean War, he decided to train for the profession at the Illinois Barber's College of Decatur.

He finished an intense training that took nine months of working eight hours a day, six days a week, he said.

The best part of the profession, according to Roy, is being around people.

"The job is not real labor intensive. It's clean, and it's warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Besides that, I make money," he said.

Roy and Ruth have three children: Sam, who lives with his wife Faith in Oakland; Mike, who lives in Findlay with his wife Debbie; and Debbie Carr, who resides in Oakland with her husband Denny.

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