Willie Alexander Harry, a well-known Baltimore barber whose York Road shop catered to figures from the world of sports and entertainment, died July 5 of complications from leukemia at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.
The longtime Northeast Baltimore resident was 81.
The son of a railroader and a seamstress, Mr. Harry was born in Lynchburg, S.C. When he was young, his family moved to a home on Portland Street in Pigtown.
Mr. Harry was a 1949 graduate of Carver Vocational-Technical High School, where he studied shoe repair.
He was working at Revere Copper & Brass, where he had risen to the position of supervisor, when he decided to enroll in the early 1960s at Apex Beauty & Barber School.
Mr. Harry began his barbering career at Lenny's House of Naturals on Fayette Street. He opened his own shop at York Road and Cold Spring Lane in 1975.
"He cut the hair of Oriole players like Eddie Murray and Paul Blair," said his daughter, Denise D. Taylor of Catonsville. "He also cut [Colts player] Lenny Moore's hair and Oprah Winfrey's when she was at WJZ-TV."
Mr. Harry also volunteered at the old Rosewood State Hospital, where he cut the hair of residents for no charge.
"He also gave haircuts to kids at school time who couldn't afford them. He hired kids to work around the shop and do errands for him in order to keep them off the streets," said Ms. Taylor.
Mr. Harry taught barbering at the Westside Skill Center and gave many of his students their first opportunity working as a barber in his shop.
"Many now own their own shops," his daughter said.
For his community work and voluntarism, Mr. Harry was inducted into the Carver Vocational-Technical High School Hall of Fame.
One of the highlights of his life, family members said, was his participation in the historic 1963 March on Washington, where he heard the Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
He had been an avid Baltimore Colts, Orioles and Ravens fan. He also enjoyed traveling.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Gillis Memorial Christian Community Church, 4016 Park Heights Ave.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Harry is survived by his wife of 41 years, the former Delores Washington; three sons, Malcolm Richards of Atlanta, Ronald Harry of Randallstown and Michael Harry of Marlton, N.J.; 16 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun