Using a razor, Glenn Collins precisely trims around the ears of longtime customer Jeff Nisbet. Collins, who established his Waterford barbershop in 1961, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 18 at the age of 83. (Photo by Maureen Vander Sanden)

Collins remembered as a fixture on Main Street

By Maureen Vander Sanden


The COVID-19 pandemic has done more than cripple Main Street America businesses in a quest to flatten the curve.

In Waterford, it claimed the life of Main Street’s “True Barber,” someone, who for six decades provided a cozy seat and smile, before getting to work the old-fashioned way with his clippers, comb and great conversation.

Glenn Collins died Dec. 18 from the coronavirus. He left behind his wife, kids, grandkids and the community he loved.

“It’s been really difficult… I’m lost already,” said wife Shirley Collins, who is trying to cope and find joy during the holidays. The two were married for 63 years and have been friends since kindergarten.

Shirley also got sick from the virus and has since recovered.

Even though Glenn was 83 years old, he was in good health, according to his wife.

“He went to the Wellness Center every day to walk the pool and never seemed to slow down. He was so well, and all of the sudden he got so sick.”

The barber also followed CDC guidelines stringently once he reopened following the mandated closure in spring, she said.

“He took so many precautions. He would come home and put his clothes straight into the washer before getting into the shower. At the shop, everyone had to wear a mask and he would disinfect everything between customers.

“I just don’t know what more he could have done,” she said. “I hope people realize how serious this really is.”

Leaving behind a legacy

“At his barber shop, you didn’t just get a great deal on a haircut; Mr. Collins’ stories about baseball, current events, and connections to our small town’s history were thrown in for free,” said Stan Northrop, a customer since childhood. His kids also grew up groomed by Glenn.

Each Christmas Glenn would hang Matchbox cars from a tree for the kids who came through his doors. He loved children and made a positive impression on them inside and outside of his shop, friends say.

“He had an appreciation for good manners,” Stan said. “He would compliment a child for … greeting him politely, or saying please and thank you. When I think about the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, I think of how fortunate I was to have had Mr. Collins in my life and the lives of my sons.”

Glenn took a genuine interest in his customers’ lives, according to Stan. When his son Keegen went off to college in 2018 the family presented the barber with a framed set of pictures – one of Keegan’s very first haircut and the other of his last cut before leaving.

“Over time, walking into Mr. Collins’s barber shop became like stopping in to visit with a relative or family friend,” Stan said.

Glenn has served families like the Northrops for generations.

Shirley noted that he was just 24 when he first opened his shop, so he grew old with most of his customers.

“That’s what he loved the most, the people who came into the barbershop,” she said.

When customers could not afford a cut, he would do it at no cost. When they lost mobility with age or due to illness, he would pay them a house call and take extra time to visit. When they passed, it hit Glenn hard, according to Shirley.

“He touched so many people during his lifetime. When my son went to the shop last week, a man came in to find out where Glenn has been, and that poor man just started sobbing when he heard the news.

“He told my son he was just going to start shaving his head.”

      To read the full version of this story see the Jan. 1 edition of the Waterford Post.