CRESTVIEW — North Okaloosa residents are remembering a lifelong Holt resident who served as a Crestview barber for nearly 60 years.
Leon Johns, of Leon's Barber Shop, died at age 86 on Saturday. His funeral was yesterday at Holt Assembly of God Church.
"One thing I could say about Johns was that he knew how to cut a good head of hair," LaRue McKinney, of Crestview, said. He attended the Holt church where Johns was a long-time member. "He was always a kind-hearted and nice man."
Johns served on the church board for eight years and, with his wife, Mildred, coordinated a ministry for senior citizens, friends said.
"Having been in business for as long as he has, my father knew a lot of people," Allen Houx, his son, said. "He is definitely going to be missed."
Johns was born in Holt in 1926. He spent four years as a firefighter in the U.S. Army, and served in Europe during World War II.
"My mother told me that he is one of the men responsible for bringing the water system to Holt," Houx said, adding his father spent 15 years on the Holt water system board of directors.
"He was always busy and a hard worker," Houx said.
In his spare time, Johns enjoyed deer hunting and fishing.
Johns leaves behind Mildred, his spouse of more than 50 years, and their four children.
"Off and on, the family has been in the hair-cutting business," Houx said. Although Houx — and his sister, Jami — didn't take to his father's profession, his two sisters did.
"Both Linda (Clayton) and Nina (Roberts) have worked in the hair-cutting business," he said.
Mildred operated beauty shops for several years in Crestview and Holt.
Leon's Barber Shop will continue serving customers, family members said.
"We plan to keep the business going," Houx said. The shop employs four licensed barbers, including Johns' grandson, Andrew Scoles. He works with Johns' longtime friend and colleague, Wayne Melvin.
"We worked together for nearly 16 years," Melvin said, adding that he will remember Johns' giving spirit.
"If there was anything you ever needed, he would always be there," he said. "He was just a good friendly neighbor."
Melvin remembers Johns' inevitable response to those who asked when he would retire.
"He would always tell them he would retire when the good Lord is ready to take him," Melvin said.
Johns was forced to retire in 2010 due to declining health.
Brackney Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements, is accepting flower donations and contributions for Emerald Coast Hospice.
Those who want to share memories of Johns and offer condolences can visit http://bit.ly/WEZMxR.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.