Beloved Sunset Hill barber, Gene George, passes away

Update, May 15:

Sunset Hill Community Association, 3003 NW 66th Street, on Tuesday June 11th, 6:30-9:30pm.

A public potluck celebration in memory of Gene George, the beloved barber who owned Sunset Hill Barbershop, will be held on Tuesday, June 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Sunset Hill Community Association (3003 NW 66th St). Donna, Gene's colleague, is planning this gathering as a remembrance of Gene George’s life and a time for the community to share memories and stories.

Furthermore, Donna would appreciate volunteer assistance to coordinate and host the potluck, as she expects to be a bit tearful and emotional during Gene’s life celebration.

To help with the potluck/celebration, please contact Donna at the Sunset Hill Barbershop, 206-465-7803.

Lastly, here's a letter from Donna to the community:

"My name is Donna. I have been Gene’s friend and co-worker for 20 years. I am heartbroken at our loss. Even though his health was failing this past year, he continued to try working. He was happiest when he held court at the barbershop especially the years since his wife passed away. I am so glad that everyone is remembering Gene with kind thoughts. He was not himself this past year and those who knew him well realized something was terribly wrong. Please always remember the real Gene, the one who gave everyone young or old his heart and 35 years of his physical strength to make all look better then when they entered. He always greeted with a genuine smile, a joke and a great haircut. I will miss him everyday, he was my mentor and friend for over 23 years. His daughter has given me her blessing to organize a “Celebration of his Life”; I am planning a community memorial celebration Tuesday evening, June 11th, at SHCA. A potluck would make us all feel like were doing this together. If anyone has the time to help me plan, please stop by the shop, as I’m not much of a computer person. Also I’m hoping someone very close to Gene over the years will volunteer to moderate. I would be too emotional.

Thank you,

Donna"

Update, May 8

We stopped by the barbershop today to find it closed until tomorrow. On the door was a piece of paper notifying customers of Gene's passing (see above). A couple of people also left flowers and a note.

Here's the neighbor's note:

Barber

It reads: "He was here for so long -- I always looked to see if he was in the shop and we'd wave. I am a neighbor who lives on the alley across the street, I will miss seeing him here. My condolences to all his family."

In addition, until a new barber is hired, the shop will only be open Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Barber

Original, May 7

Ballard News-Tribune columnist Peggy Sturdivant reports that Gene George, who owned and had worked at the Sunset Hill Barbershop for 31 years, passed away.

Peggy featured Gene in a 2007 At Large in Ballard column, "The Businessman."

We'll write more about his passing and his effect on the community. In the meantime, here's a fun excerpt from Peggy's column:

"While I was still in the barber's chair a man entered and asked if there was a wait. I offered my seat. 'The businessman,' he said to Donna. I noticed a chart with pictures of haircuts such as the Ivy League and the Businessman. The walls were completely covered with old signs and clippings; magazines ranged from the brown wrapper variety to Outside and Ebony. There were gumball machines and kid's videos. I asked Gene if he really gave kids a quarter on their first haircut. 'Every haircut,' he said. 'But how it starts is that I give them a penny for the gumball machine and whatever color they get, I tell them that's the winner and give them a quarter. Every visit.'"

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