The gentleman barber: Greg Fowler, 1953-2019

Greg and his wife, Glenys. The Wingham Street Carnival will never be the same without Greg's Santa. Photos supplied
Greg and his wife, Glenys. The Wingham Street Carnival will never be the same without Greg's Santa. Photos supplied

Greg Fowler (known to many as Chooky) was born to Lorna and Cyril Fowler on January 1, 1953, at Wingham Hospital. He was a big brother to Gwenda and Wayne.

Greg attended Wingham Brush Public School and Wingham High school, and lived in Wingham most of his life - a true blue Winghamite. He loved the people and the Manning Valley.

He left school at an early age to keep the family barber business open, when his father, Cyril, suffered a heart attack. He started his apprenticeship as a barber spending time learning his craft in Wingham and Newcastle.

He was extremely shy when he started cutting hair and his father would often tell him he had to talk to customers.

He learnt to use the cut throat razor by practising on a balloon and wasn't allowed to do shaves until he could scrape shaving cream from the balloon without bursting it.

Greg giving grandson Parker his first haircut. Photo supplied

Greg giving grandson Parker his first haircut. Photo supplied

Long hair became fashionable and there was not enough work to support his father and himself. Greg relocated to Sydney where he worked as a tyrefitter, later returning to Wingham and taking up a position at Beaurepairs in Taree.

Cyril became too ill to continue barbering and Greg returned to doing what he loved, cutting hair and talking to people. Originally in the back of the sports store where Lauders how resides, he then moved to a larger shop in Robbie Roy's arcade, later moving across the road to the sunny side of Isabella street where he stayed until his shop had to be closed this year due to ill health. Greg cut hair for 43 years.

He was a great conversationalist and loved to socialise over a coffee with friends. It didn't matter if he was at the supermarket or getting a takeaway coffee, everything took twice as long as he would run into friends or customers and had to have a chat. Many of his customers became lifelong friends.

He was humble, never wanting the limelight, and generous to a fault. He treated everyone the same - as a friend. He loved to holiday and many of his customers understood it is important to spend time with the family. The loyal ones always waited and when Greg returned they would be lined up out the door, even if they did have to go to the ladies hairdressers while he was away.

Older customers would tell him to holiday while you're still young enough to enjoy it. The family is glad he did as they now have cherished memories of trips around Australia and overseas.

Santa won't be the same without Greg 'helping him out' at the Wingham Christmas Street Carnival. His alter ego has always been a well kept secret especially around grandchildren.

Greg was highly regarded in the community. On his passing the family received many expressions of sympathy, by way of phone calls, flowers and cards, and local business owners also posting tributes on their Facebook pages.

Greg was married to Glenys for 36 years, was a devoted dad to Tanya and Nathan Poppy to five adored grandchildren.

After a short brave battle with leukaemia Greg passed away peacefully on September 24. His funeral was held at Manning Great Lakes Memorial Gardens on October 1 with approximately 300 family and friends coming together to celebrate his life.

Greg will be missed by many. RIP.

This story The gentleman barber: Greg Fowler, 1953-2019 first appeared on Wingham Chronicle.