Happy Birthday Dad: In Loving Memory of Roger Hornyak (1943-2003)

Roger Hornyak

Today would have been my dad's 64th birthday. When he passed away in 2003, there was a special obituary for him in The News-Herald, our local newspaper. I love to read it now and then because it tells his story just the way he would have wanted it told. Even his tombstone says "The Barber" and it has a barber pole etched in it. That's just who he was. Here is the obituary in its entirety, in honor of my dad on his birthday:

Roger Hornyak
Natural-born barber knew people all around the area

Roger Allen Hornyak was a natural at cutting hair.

That was clear by the time he was 11 years old, and his brother, Bennie Hornyak, is one of his lifelong fans.

"He learned how to cut hair by using me," he said. "I was the guinea pig. He would practice on me."

Then he got good, he said. He got really good.

On Saturday mornings in the 1950s, neighborhood children would come to their Wyandotte home for a haircut from the budding star.

"Roger would line them up in the back yard and just cut their hair for 50 cents," Bennie Hornyak said.

The children liked that, too, because they could save up the rest of their money for ice cream or something else later, he said.

"He was a barber," Hornyak said. "I mean, he was a good barber. Geez, I don't know where I'm going to get my hair cut now."

At the age of 60, Mr. Hornyak, who lived in Wyandotte his entire life, died Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2003.

Mr. Hornyak attended Wyandotte schools and later attended barber college. There, his talent was recognized right off the bat. If other students mussed up a haircut, the instructor would call on Mr. Hornyak to fix it, his brother said.

Mr. Hornyak worked at shops in Southfield and Lincoln Park but spent 20 years of his career working at the former Sportsman's Barber Shop in Wyandotte.

In 1994, Mr. Hornyak opened Hornyak's Barber Shop in Lincoln Park, where he worked until he became ill as a result of natural causes in 2002.

Through his work, Mr. Hornyak knew many people all around, his brother said.

"A lot of people knew him because he was cutting hair for a long time," he said.

Mr. Hornyak married Barbara Zambrowski on June 12, 1970. They had one daughter, Kelley, 22, who lives in Allen Park.

Arrangements were handled by H.F. Thon Funeral Home, Wyandotte. Interment was at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery in Brownstown Township.

(source: The News-Herald, 01/14/2004)

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