Greensburg barber opts to retire after more than 60 years in business

Ed DiOrio knows long and short hair, and a related fact that has kept him in business for over 60 years: “Hair regrows.

At 85, the Greensburg man is retiring Thursday from his barbering trade, along with the barber chair that has followed him throughout his long career tending to his clients’ haircuts in and around the city.

DiOrio began cutting hair as a teenager, while still attending high school in Greensburg. He would walk to South Main Street to help out at a shop run by barber Ray Garner, gaining experience in return.

“I thought it was an easy dollar,” DiOrio said of the barber. “It’s a good job, but you don’t make a lot of money.”

After graduating from school in 1956, he spent four years in the Navy – sailing aboard the USS Cacapon to the Western Pacific, including Japan.

His duties on board included – of course – cutting other sailors’ hair. It was a new challenge for him to cut with precision as the ship rolled on the sea.

“There were too many waves,” he said, “but you get used to it.”

Crew cuts were a common style, which made her haircut job easier. “You just took it all off,” he said.

After his stint in the service, DiOrio returned to his chosen civilian trade in Greensburg. He partnered with other barbers in shops at the current sites of the Joseph Thomas Flower Shop on Main Street and Penelope’s Gift Shop on Pennsylvania Avenue.

In the early 1970s he struck out on his own, opening a barber shop in the West Point section of neighboring Hempfield. It’s been in his basement, at 27 W. Pittsburgh St. in Greensburg, since 1975.

Part of a traditional tonsorial profession that has seen competition from style salons and chain stores, DiOrio has left a lasting impression with clients who have included lawyers, judges and others who work in the courthouse. of nearby Westmoreland County.

County commissioners issued a proclamation on Wednesday expressing their thanks to DiOrio for “serving the community for so many years” while becoming “a trusted friend to many.”

“In all those years, he never took time off, he never took a vacation,” his daughter Jenn Falbo said of DiOrio.

Long-time customers have become more than customers.

“He knew all about their family and friends and what was going on in their lives,” the commissioners said.

Conversation, which is often sports-centric, is something DiOrio has provided that’s just as important as his skill with a razor and scissors.

“Some people are shy, but once they sit in the chair, they talk,” he said.

Of course, silence can be golden when it comes to giving little ones their first haircut. DiOrio kept a drawer full of lollipops for those customers — many of whom came back again and again.

“I gave a guy a haircut when he was 2, and he still comes,” he said.

DiOrio has shared with customers his interests in golf and Frank Sinatra, favored subjects that are reflected in the decor of the walls of his boutique.

“One thing about Sinatra is that he could sing,” DiOrio said. “There’s no one better yet.”

Although he treated them all equally, DiOrio remembers a few famous or infamous clients who stood out. They range from late Pirates pitcher and host Nellie King to death row inmate John Lesko.

Lesko and the late Michael Travaglia were convicted or pleaded guilty to four murders in the area during a “kill for the thrill” spree in 1979-80. Lesko, who has filed several appeals in his case, was brought to DiOrio by his lawyer to have his beard and hair cut for his first court appearance.

DiOrio also took his barbering technique on the road. For many years he was under contract to provide haircuts to residents of Westmoreland Manor.

“He would go every Monday, which was his day off at the store,” Falbo said.

DiOrio has seen plenty of hairstyles come and go over six decades. The key, he says: “Just go with the flow. It’s all arranged.”

Jeff Himler is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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