Iola barber taking his shears to Oklahoma

Barber Greg Shields will close his shop in Iola after 22 years and move to Oklahoma to be closer to family. In addition to his business, he's been an active volunteer and helped form a youth wrestling team.

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August 5, 2022 - 3:13 PM

Barber Greg Shields will close his business after 22 years. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Greg Shields, who has been cutting hair in Iola for half his life, is headed to Grove, Okla., at the end of the month.

Shields, 44, will take over a shop there from a barber who is retiring. The desire to be closer to family played a large part in his decision.

“It’s definitely a hard, hard decision,” Shields said this week. “I’ve gotten close to a lot of people. I’m gonna miss them.”

Shields’ shop in Iola will close for good on Aug. 30. He’s cutting back to three days a week this month, Tuesdays through Thursdays, as he plans for the move.

Shields packed a lot into his 22 years in Iola.

On top of his barbering, Shields also served on school steering committees, the Allen Community College Endowment board and was one of the founders of the county’s youth wrestling program. On top of that, he coached youth football, wrestling and softball.

“We came here, and our kids were little bitty,” he noted. “We raised them in the school district.”

One of his shop walls is adorned with dozens of signatures of youngsters whose hair he cut through the years.

“It’s been fun.”

THE ALTAMONT native came upon a career in hair-cutting after a trip to the local barber. It was on Valentine’s Day, he recalled.

The barber noted the benefits of cutting hair for a living. 

First of all, it’s a cash business.

“And you can get paid to stand around and talk to people?” Shields laughed. “Sign me up.”

Shields discussed the idea with his wife at the time, “and we decided, what the hell. Let’s do it.”

Shields attended barber college in Wichita, living in a horse barn while attending class, and working at a local K-mart to help pay the bills.

Upon graduation, Shields learned of an opening in Iola, when long-time barber John Zahm hung up his clippers.

The Shieldses moved to Iola in December 2000, where Shields worked alongside Jack Steiner at 110 West St. for 13 years until acquiring his own building on the opposite side of the square.

That’s where he’s worked for the nine years since, in a small room adjoining the alley at 7½ N. Jefferson Ave.

Shields sold the building earlier this year as he planned for the move.

Shields has three children. Daughter Katie lives in Kentucky with her husband. Daughter Ashley is in Wichita and is to be married next weekend. Son C.J. lives in Neosho, Mo.

Shields has other relatives living in Oklahoma.

“Our family was welcomed with open arms from the community, even up to now,” Shields said. “It’s a good feeling when people say you’ll be missed. That’s what makes it hard. But now there’s the excitement of a new adventure.”

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