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King of Streator: Harcar lives on through others

The late Bob Harcar cuts the hair of longtime customer Mario Macias in June 2017 at his Streator barbershop. Bob retired last summer after 57 years in the business. He died Thursday morning, but his influence still resonates in Streator.
The late Bob Harcar cuts the hair of longtime customer Mario Macias in June 2017 at his Streator barbershop. Bob retired last summer after 57 years in the business. He died Thursday morning, but his influence still resonates in Streator.

Bob Harcar was more than just a barber in Streator.

His son said some saw him as therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, doctor and friend.

“Some people called him the king of Streator,” Bob Jr. said with a chuckle.

He meant many things to many people, but to most they were just happy to have him lend an ear.

Bob Harcar died Thursday morning, but his presence is still felt throughout Streator.

Particularly at his former barbershop at 108 S. Park St.

Alex Wahl cuts hair there now, but many of his customers were longtime patrons and friends of Bob.

“It was just like it is being with family,” said Chuck Moroni while he was having his hair cut at the same place he used to go to visit Bob. “Like being with someone you grew up with.”

Many patrons shared stories and memories of experiences with Bob.

The barbershop became a melting pot of sorts for the community. No one was turned away because of their beliefs and everyone was welcomed.

“It was like a home,” said his daughter, Cheryl Finkelstein. “If you walked into his barbershop you knew it was a place that was comforting and you belonged.”

And Wahl has worked hard to retain that same environment.

Bob took Wahl under his wing prior to retirement and even cut hair with him for a month.

"It's hard to find a good mentor, and Bob was a guy with 57 years under his belt," Wahl said. "He saw it all and (has) done it all."

Wahl considered that Bob helped him out to ensure his customers were left in good hands, and Wahl was honored to continue his traditions.

"It's something that's hard to even put a value on as it's so important, and for Bob to do it for someone like me, it's one of those opportunities that comes along once in a lifetime," he said.

Moroni shared his condolences with Bob Jr. and said he’d be “truly missed” in the community.

“You always came out of here laughing, that’s for sure,” Moroni said to him with a smile.

Bob Jr. said the outpouring of support since his father’s death has been immense and said part of the community’s love of him came from his support of the community itself.

He said his father always made sure to support local community efforts and instilled that same dedication to the community onto his kids.

Sometimes it was a donation to a local organization and other times it was just picking up a piece of trash on the street.

Cheryl said it was that personality that inspired her to be better to others and encouraged kind interactions.

“It instills in others,” Cheryl said. “It makes us see how being kind and nurturing and showing that you care, connects people.”

She concluded it’s through that connectivity that ensures he will still be around in the actions and words of those that follow in his footsteps.

“I think he’ll always be in our hearts,” Cheryl said. “Even though he’s not here physically, we still carry him with us. He’s still with us.”

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