It was a bitterly cold day in the South End of Montclair but you’d never know it from the warm and intimate atmosphere inside Young’s World of Beauty Barbershop on Orange Road. Mr. Celess Young, the barber who dedicated his life to cutting countless Montclairians’ hair over the course of four decades, passed away on November 27th in South Carolina at the age of 86. He left behind a community of mourning co-workers, clients and above all, friends and family who sought out not only his haircutting expertise but more importantly, his kindness and wisdom.
“You’d wait all day for a haircut in a long line of chairs,” said Reverend Craig Dunn who will be providing the eulogy for Mr. Young at his memorial service Saturday, December 17, at St. Paul’s Baptist Church on the corner of Elm Street. The service will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Reverend Dunn reminisced about Mr. Young as he now waited for a cut from his friend and current barber, Mr. Marc Williams. Williams, also a Montclair firefighter, worked with Young while in High School and stayed until he took over the business in 2005 when Mr. Young retired.
“He was the kind of guy who always saw the glass half full,” said Williams. “Always positive and commanded respect from everyone. When he was around you wanted his respect so you behaved in a way to get it. When I first started, he asked me what time I could get to work and if I said nine, he said then you’d better be here by nine every day. So I did. He practiced what he preached and would get to the shop early, rain, shine or snow, to see his first client. He came all the way from Brooklyn and was always on time.”
Chuck Nesbitt, another client in the shop, had a few things to say about Young as well.
“When I moved to town in 2003, I heard of Young’s great reputation as a haircutter and I’ve been getting my hair cut here ever since.”
Reverend Dunn added that with Mr. Young there was something special.
“There were so many barbers to choose from but Mr. Young was different. I first started going to him with my father in 1973 on Bloomfield Avenue before he moved to Orange Road in the eighties, and I have continued to this day.”
“There was no system in place since we were walk-ins but everyone knew who was next,” stated Dunn. “There was never a rowdy crew because Mr. young commanded respect.”
“He was unique,” he exclaimed. “He would talk about how a man should carry himself and that there was a lot more to being a man than his size. I got more from him whispering something in my ear, than the actual haircut! He would talk to us during those haircuts and he gave me insight into my own father at an age when boys don’t typically listen to their fathers. He would temper my frustration with my dad and diffuse family situations all during a single haircut.”
“We held ourselves accountable to him and If you don’t have someone to hold yourself accountable to, you can get out of control. When you go somewhere for 40 years, it’s almost more of a connection than with your own father. He was a man of integrity with both his words and his actions, carrying himself the same way no matter where he was.”
Across the street, at Mahir’s Unisex Barbershop, Mahir Abdul Hakim had a few things to say about Mr. Young as well.
“Mr. Young was my mentor and my teacher before and after I started my own shop on Orange Road. I started working at Young’s as a teenager and he was a man with a kind heart. In those early years I was fired or quit a total of seven times and Mr. young always took me back,” he laughed.
“He was a healthy man and always modeled healthy behavior. I remember him eating nuts, celery and even sardines which was unusual back in the nineties. He was ahead of his time.”
“He was also very involved in the community and even the Chamber of Commerce even though he was not a Montclair resident. He was truly a South End legend and will be missed.”