Longtime barber, organist still does it all plus some

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At 83, Bob Lennartz says ‘growing old is a privilege.’

At 19, Bob Lennartz left his hometown of Fort Recovery to go to barber school. “I played piano for plays and events at school, and the bass drum in the high school band,” he said, “but I knew that very few can make a living in music.

“After I’d finished barber school, Frank Broerman, who owned a shop in Huber Heights, recruited me.”

Just a few years later, Lennartz married and was drafted into the Army. “Since I played organ, I applied to be the chaplain’s assistant and got the position. My wife, Delores, came to Atlanta with me and it was nice duty – I played the organ for services, made programs, and worked in the chapel.”

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The young couple, who’d had their first child in Atlanta, headed back to Huber Heights where they settled and had four more children. “I worked a few more years for Broerman, then went to Fitzsimmons music store in Dayton. They only sold organs and pianos, and I played organ at St. Peters in Huber Heights, so was put in charge of church organ sales.

“I went to churches and gave demonstrations of the Allen organs, and was very successful. I’d kept up my barber’s license, and when he sold the company, I went to work managing stores for La-Z-Boy for 20 years.”

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But Lennartz also went into his own piano business on the side during those years. “I bought a small building and trailer, and would pick up used pianos, restore them, and sell them out of that building.”

He also continued to play at St. Peters for 30 years, then at St. Denis in Versailles another 20. He finally retired at 65, but only from La-Z-Boy. “I went back to work in a few different barber shops for several years, then decided to open my own with two of my sons. I wanted a real old-fashioned shop with shaves and facials as well as cuts,” he said.

Lennartz Olde Time Barber Shop in Springboro has five private booths, “and we’re getting ready to hire a sixth barber. It’s doing really well – men like coming in and getting pampered, and all barbers are taught to do men’s facials, which take about an hour. We’re doing things like they did years ago – haircuts, facials and shaves.”

The two sons who invested in the shop don’t work there — one’s a CPA and takes care of the financial part of the business, and the other does the technical aspects.

Lennartz, 83, still comes in four days a week, “but I’ll whittle back to three when we hire the sixth barber,” he says, noting that “I can still outdo the others and set the pace. And I love going in there, talking to people, and playing the old pump organ for customers when I’m not busy.”

At home, he has two organs and a piano in the Centerville condo where he and Delores live now, and plays them every day. “My kids give me the devil, but Delores has been an angel, supporting all the crazy things I’ve done.”

He bought yet another organ last month, an 1850s Moller pump organ, for his hometown. “Fort Recovery is renovating an old opera house and sent out a letter for donations. I have connections with a group of organists, and was sent a photo of that organ for sale.

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“Most that old are rotten inside, but this one had been restored, so I forwarded the picture to the historical committee and said if they wanted it, I’d buy it and donate it to them. They accepted, so my son Steve and I took the trailer to the lady’s house, picked it up, took it to Fort Recovery and I played it for the committee.”

And, a few weeks ago, he was asked to play at St. Leonard, a Centerville retirement community. “It was wonderful, and I’ll be a substitute when they need me.”

Lennartz, loves the adage that “growing old is a privilege,” and says “I feel very privileged.”

Contact this writer at virgburroughs@gmail.com.

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