Generations of people who got their hair cut by longtime Tucker barber Joe Burges gathered Friday to remember the life of the World War II veteran.
Burges, also a veteran of the Korean War, died last Tuesday at 93 years old. He was a barber in the DeKalb County city for more than 50 years, cutting hair at three shops and working until he was 87, his family said.
He had dozens of regular customers, some of whom also brought their children and grandchildren to get haircuts, his stepdaughter Carolyn Carlson said. When he retired in 2013, Burges had a line of people waiting to get one last haircut from him, she said.
“He inspired that kind of loyalty,” Carlson said, adding that many former customers attended Burges’ funeral on Friday.
He was also known in Tucker for his red tractor, which was always a hit in the city’s parades, she said. On Christmas, he would dress up like Santa Claus and drive around, giving presents and candy to children.
Burges learned how to cut hair while serving in the Navy, after which he worked as a barber in Norfolk, Virginia and South Georgia, his family wrote in an obituary. He moved to Tucker when he was 36 and opened the Burges and Cruce Barber Shop on Highway 29.
He later opened Tucker Barber Shop on Main Street in 1967, and worked there for 30 years until he closed the business to enter partial retirement. From there, he worked for one day a week at Charles’ Barber and Style Shop until fully retiring.
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He was also a longtime member and former officer of the Tucker Masonic Lodge No. 42.
“If he could help someone, he always tried to help them,” his longtime friend Lee Pervis said. “Even if somebody got shut in at home, he’d go cut their hair.”
There were more than 150 people at his funeral, Burges’ stepdaughter said. That included people who worked at Matthews Cafeteria on Main Street, one of Burges’ favorite restaurants.
“He knew almost everybody in there,” Carlson said. “He and his friends would take up the whole back row on Friday nights. Because he never missed catfish night.”
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