After 60 years in the business, local barber 80-year-old Richard Fisher, owner of Fisher’s Barbershop in Marshall, continues to make an impact, touching lives through not only the magic of his hands, but the sublime service he gives.
“I’ve been coming to Fisher a while,” Jackie Franklin, a longtime customer of about 40 years, said as he relaxed in Fisher’s barber chair recently.
“I like his personality, and he cuts your hair the way you want him to cut it — not the way he wants to cut it,” said Franklin. “He cuts the way you tell him to cut. A lot of people get on your head and they just cut however they see fit. But, like I said, Fisher takes care of you if you want your hair taken care of.
“He’s about the best barber here,” Franklin praised.
Fellow customer Theartis Gooch concurred.
“He is by far,” Gooch, a customer of 60 years said as he waited his turn to sit in Fisher’s chair last Friday. “He’s a great barber.”
REALIZING A DREAM
Fisher is a product of the historic Tyler Barber College, which served as not only the first Black barber college in the United States, but the only one in operation for years, producing nearly 80 percent of the world’s African American barbers. Founded in 1934 by Tyler native Henry Miller Morgan, the college helped start a chain of other Black barber schools around the nation.
“I went to barber school in 1960 at Tyler Barber College in Tyler, Texas,” Fisher said, noting the school had a six-month program.
Becoming a barber was a profession he knew he wanted to pursue since around the age of 14.
“When I was a young boy growing up, I always told my mama I wanted to be a barber,” Fisher shared.
He recalled always hearing radio ads about Tyler Barber College as a teen.
“I used to sit up at night and listen to WLAC (out of) Nashville Tennessee and he would advertise the barber school about 11 o’clock at night,” Fisher reminisced. “I’d sit up and listen to that and I’d tell my mama, that’s where I wanted to go to school — Tyler.”
Fisher did just that and has been barbering since.
“I started barbering Aug. 22, 1960,” Fisher beamed.
He became a barber to not only help men with their grooming needs, but to also create a sense of camaraderie.
“It was something about the people that I believed I could communicate with,” said Fisher.
Upon his completion at barber school, Fisher began working for then-Clark’s Barbershop in downtown Marshall on Franklin Street where he stayed for seven years. He then opened his own shop, Fisher’s Barbershop, which has been a mainstay since and still operates at its same location at 1701 W. Grand Ave.
“It’s been real nice,” Fisher said, describing his journey as a labor of love.
It’s a passion of his that he still enjoys today as he serves clients of all ages.
“I love what I’m doing,” said Fisher.
“I’m 80 years old and still enjoying my work,” Fisher said as he gracefully groomed a client’s face and jovially maneuvered his scissors throughout his hair.
Fisher’s clients appreciate the service he gives, and says it’s what keeps them coming back after all these years.
“You gotta know how to treat people. You gotta know how to deal with your customers,” said Franklin, a retired owner of the former P&J Restaurant.
Theartis Gooch has been with Fisher throughout his entire barbering journey. He recalls first coming to him when Fisher began his career for Clark’s Barbershop in downtown Marshall.
“There weren’t any Black barbers anywhere else,” Gooch said of the availability of barbers in town.
“He was in downtown Marshall. It was a café underneath. He was on the second floor. He had a bunch of guys up there,” he said.
And although “availability” is what initially brought Gooch to Fisher, great “results” is what has kept him there.
“You don’t come out looking like no wolf man,” Gooch chuckled.
Plus, “we all have different textures of hair,” he said of the unique texture of African American hair.
“He’s about the only one that can handle my hair,” Gooch said, sharing how Fisher is a wiz at mastering hair with both the clippers and scissors.
Gooch said other qualities he admires in Fisher is his discipline, punctuality and fairness.
For Fisher, getting a chance to meet people throughout his career has been most enjoyable. He encourages future barbers to develop a sense of camaraderie with their customers, too.
“Be able to communicate with people,” Fisher advises. “It’s more than just cutting hair.”
Outside of his profession, Fisher is an active member at Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall. He loves spending time with his family and thanks his wife Annie Fisher for her love and support.
“I have a wonderful wife,” he smiled.