LETTER: Reflecting on local barber Vern Dempsey’s community impact

Dempsey recently retired after a tremendous 65-year career

Thanks for the article on Vern Dempsey.

As I’m a relative newcomer here, I only became acquainted with him in the 80’s or so.

The first time I went to his barbershop, I never walked in because there were so many men on the couch that I thought I didn’t have time to wait.

On later visits, I discovered that those men were just chewing the rag, and the place was a kind of hangout for local men, some of them my neighbours.

I came to enjoy sitting there too, absorbing the relaxed atmosphere while I waited for a trim. There I became acquainted with other farmers and discovered where harvesting was completed, which areas were still waiting for dry weather, and other important information.

I also became acquainted with Vern, as he was an interesting conversationalist, and he told me many experiences about his own life.

One thing I remember is his love in recent years for going on trail rides with horses and wagons, but he had to quit because his youth had left him far behind.

I usually spent part of my time in the chair studying the wall full of pictures of his life. There were pictures of his horses and a photo of his granddaughter who was in my Summer Bible School class one year.

One day I told him I was in a hurry and I prodded him a little. Vern let me know that he’d had a busy morning and he needed a coffee. Sorry, Vern.

Here was a man with perseverance. There’s not a man around who’s like him. Here’s a handshake for Vern Dempsey, an unforgettable man of the community.

Lloyd Penner


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