Bensenville's 'Nick the Barber' dies at 81
Nicola Falco, affectionately known as "Nick the Barber," died on Nov. 9 at the age of 81.
Falco operated Nick's Barber Shop for decades at 18 E. Green St., Bensenville, starting in the late 1960s. Generations of families were regular patrons.
"I watched my dad through the years give a haircut to a father, and then that father's son, and then that father's grandson," said Savino "Sam" Falco of Bensenville. "People would sometimes come in who didn't care about a haircut. They wanted to talk or watch the Cubs game."
Nick's Barber Shop also famously featured a children's barber chair with a wooden horse head.
"I don't know how many hundreds of people have a picture of their child in that chair," Sam Falco said. "It was like the kids were riding a horse for their first haircut."
That antique horse head came from Nicola Falco's birthplace of Ceglie del Campo, Bari, in Italy. Falco immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager, later marrying Susan Pleticha.
"His heritage was to feed people, talk with people and make them feel welcome," said another son, Nick Falco Jr. of Crystal Lake. "That's just how he was. He was a give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back kind of guy."
Nick Jr. said his father was also a dedicated member of the Itasca Baptist Church, where he served many years as a deacon. Falco Sr. also was known for regularly giving haircuts to Bridgeway Senior Living residents in Bensenville.
In 2010, Bensenville's village president and board of trustees honored Falco Sr. with a "Nick Falco Day" proclamation.
The barbershop was a downtown mainstay until ill health forced Falco Sr. to retire in 2016. It followed his diagnosis with a rare blood-protein disease known as cryoglobulinemia.
"My dad loved his customers," Sam Falco said. "The worst day of his life was when he had to retire. He said every week, 'I miss my customers.'"
Nicola Falco is survived by four siblings, his widow, Susan, and their children Savino, Nick Jr., Mary, Anthony and Tara. Falco Sr. also leaves behind several grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.
A visitation is from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at Geils Funeral Home, 180 S. York Road, Bensenville. A Celebration of Life is also planned for 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at Itasca Baptist Church, 210 S. Walnut St., Itasca.