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Edgar Edwards shows his great-grandson, Judah Young, his skills as a traditional barber.
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Originally published: 2013-01-22 17:27:20
Last modified: 2013-01-22 17:27:20

Edgar Edwards — a long-term relationship with Avery County

Harris Prevost

Just about everything Edgar Edwards does, he goes the distance. He has been married to his wife, Lois, for 63 years. He has been a member of Crossnore Baptist Church for 57 years — for 40 of those years he sang in the choir and for 19 he taught Sunday School. And he went fishing in Montana for two weeks every summer … for 35 years!

Edwards’ career is no different. He has been giving haircuts to Avery County residents for more than a half century. He was introduced to his trade early: His father cut his hair and that of his six brothers and one sister in their childhood home in the Bald Creek section of Yancey County.

His trip to the barbershop was a roundabout journey at first. After high school, Edwards worked for the N.C. Department of Transportation in the Hickory/Lenoir area for two years. Although his job did nothing to prepare him for his career, it was extremely productive. One day he was paving a section of highway and met a “very pretty girl” who lived along that road. Edwards knew a good thing when he saw it and, six months later, Lois was his wife.
The couple moved to Crossnore in 1952 and Edwards began working for American Thread in the Woodlawn community 10 miles north of Marion. In 1961, at age 32, he decided on a career change. He wanted to be a barber.

Edwards went to barber school in Winston-Salem, which lasted eight months. He stayed with his brother and came back home on weekends. Upon graduation, he began his barber career in Spruce Pine — making $6 a day.

After about eight months, he got a better job in Newland and then in 1965 he built the three-chair Model Barber Shop in Crossnore and went into business for himself. He cut hair six days a week for the next 25 years.

Edwards said, “The best part of my job was getting to know people. I made a lot of friends.” 

He has cut hair for several customers for almost 50 years. 

The hard part of his job, though, was standing on his feet 10 hours a day. If you do the math, Edwards was on his feet 60 hours a week, 3,000 hours a year and a total of 78,000 hours during that 25-year period. A bad back made it impossible for him to continue a full schedule, so he sold the shop in 1990 and continued cutting hair on a reduced schedule. The schedule eventually was narrowed down to one day a week, Thursdays, and then to Thursday mornings.

Edwards’ work wasn’t confined to his barbershop. He went to his customers’ houses to cut their hair, especially if they were disabled. Others came to his house. He had an old barber’s chair and he decided to wall in his back porch and make it a barbershop for those who couldn’t make it to see him on Thursdays. 

At age 84, 22 years after he semi-retired, Edwards is still cutting hair although he has slowed down quite a bit due to health issues. He still enjoys cutting hair and carrying on some “barber shop chatter” with his customers.

But his greatest joys continue to be with his longest-term relationships — with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through worship at Crossnore Baptist Church and with his wife, Lois, and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

The Edwardses have three sons. Gary grows Christmas trees, Terry will celebrate his 30th year as assistant director of ASU’s Internal Audit Department and Randy is dean of ASU’s Walker College of Business. Not taking anything away from the boys, but the Edwardses really love spending time with their nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Edwards is living proof that long-term relationships are the most rewarding.