Longtime barber Herbert Hicks celebrates 100th birthday

Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Donna Shurbutt describes her father, Herbert Roscoe Hicks of McDonough, as a “the greatest dad of the Greatest Generation.”

Top: Herbert Hicks with his daughter, Donna Shurbutt. Bottom: Herbert gives a haircut during his days in the U.S. Army. Special photo

“He’s a gentle, compassionate man,” she says. “He’s a quiet person, and he’s reserved. When he does say something, you listen because it has a lot of value to it.”

Hicks celebrated his 100th birthday on May 9, with family and friends at GoldenCrest at Eagles Landing in Stockbridge. McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland also presented Hicks with a key to the city, proclaiming May 9 as Herbert Roscoe Hicks Day.

Hicks was born in Henry County on May 9, 1915 to Susan and Mose Hicks. Shurbutt says Hicks, the middle child of five, “had a hard life,” working on a farm with his own father.

“He was a hard worker, and he instilled a good work ethic in me,” she says.

Shurbutt says although longevity runs in her father’s family, Hicks didn’t expect that his life would follow that same path.

“He never thought he’d live to be 100,” she explains. “He was the middle child of five. He has one sister who’s still living. She’s 97. His dad was almost 95 when he died.”

In 1934, Hicks moved to Atlanta to attend barber school. He married Catherine McAnsh on July 30, 1939, and they were married for 56 years.

Hicks opened a two-chair shop on Washington Street in 1940. He also served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Germany from 1943-1946, transporting equipment and rebuilding bridges and ferries.

“At times during his military career, he was allowed to cut hair on the side to earn extra money,” says Shurbutt.

Following his military service, Hicks opened a barber shop in the Henry Grady Hotel. He launched a second shop at Lenox Square Mall in 1959, expanding to seven establishments during his career.

Hicks survived a bout with cancer in 1953. Shurbutt says some of his doctors have called him a “walking miracle.”

“His case has been written up in medical journals,” says Shurbutt. “He’s had three heart attacks. But he’s in good shape for 100.”

Hicks returned to McDonough in 1970 and retired nine years later. Still, Shurbutt says some of his patrons continued to seek him out for a haircut now and then.

“After he retired in 1979, several longtime customers of his would drive down to McDonough to get their hair cut by him,” she says. “He wouldn’t do it at first, and then he’d do it only on Saturday. After that, they’d call and come by anytime. I guess he just enjoyed seeing them. They’d just sit down, he’d cut their hair and visit.”

Hicks also has two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.