Bill Holdeman is finished with his rehab. After 60 years cutting hair, a job he initially took because the Marine Corps recommended he find a career standing up, he is selling the business to Marion native Mike Darrow.
Holdeman incurred wounds to his feet during his stint in the Marines, during which he was stationed in Saipan and Okinawa. The Marines told him his wounds were too severe to continue serving and recommended he stay on his feet to rehabilitate them.
Holdeman’s barber career began shortly thereafter.
“It sure as hell doesn’t compare to combat,” Holdeman said.
Holdeman and Darrow have a lot of differences between them; age is one, as Holdeman, 91, is 61 years older than his successor.
They have similarities, too, such as the same alma mater. Holdeman became interested in selling the business to Darrow when he heard Darrow had enrolled at Oldtown Barber College in Wichita. It was his old school, even though it had a new name.
“It was called the Kansas School of Barbering when I went there,” he said.
Darrow said he hopes for the longevity that Holdeman’s had as well.
“I hope I’m still cutting hair 60 years from now,” he said.
Holdeman originally worked in Newton for nearly 40 years before opening a Marion location in 1995.
Darrow will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., he said.
Tuesday will be his first day of business. Holdeman’s last day was Saturday; his stepson Nathan was his last customer.
As for Darrow, his children and his nephew were his first customers. He said cutting their hair sparked an interest in possibly doing it for an occupation. He and his wife Chelsea have two children with a third on the way, he said.
Darrow was born and raised in Marion, and he said he’s glad to be able to provide a service for the people of his home town.
“It still doesn’t seem real,” he said.
Holdeman endorsed Darrow, saying he was trained in all the newest haircutting techniques. Of course, Holdeman has old tricks to show him as well.
“I have to show him how to cut flat tops yet,” he said.
For Holdeman, who still rides a bicycle, he said he’s not quite able to stand as well as he used to. Other than that, it was just time to sell the business.
He recalled the toughest jobs he had would be when the family of customers requested he cut his former patrons’ hair for their funerals.
“One time a woman said her husband didn’t need a hair cut, then come an hour before his funeral, she changed her mind,” he said. “He had his suit on and everything, we did it right there.”
Finally, Holdeman thanked the Marion community for supporting his business.
“Holdeman Barber shop will be closing on the last day of April, and you’ve been great these past 20 years, and I have really appreciated your business,” he said.