Stanley Wisconsin lost a legend this past week when local barber Robert ‘Bob’ Valk passed away July 25, at the age of 87.
Born December 28, 1935, to Francis and Catherine (Heiting) Valk in Stanley, Bob graduated from Stanley High School with the Class of 1953, going on to earn his barber’s license along with three brothers from the Milwaukee School of Barbering.
Later marrying Patricia Swatzina in 1957 and barbering at Milwaukee and Wausau before purchasing the barber shop of Harold Shock in 1962, Bob went on to cut hair for over six decades, touching generations of customers.
An avid sportsman, Bob participated in school sports and boys chorus, also belonging to the Rifle Club while at Stanley High. As to the latter organization, the yearbook from that time indicates that it had five goals:
1) The understanding of firearms
2) Development and skill in using them
3) Correct management of target shooting ranges
4) Developing the qualities of leadership, loyalty, and good sportsmanship, and
5) Good citizenship
These qualities would serve Bob well in life, both as a sportsman and local citizen, whether fishing, hunting, or plying his trade on Stanley’s effective main street of Broadway Avenue.
Returning to Stanley after several years as a barber elsewhere, Valk was known for more than haircuts, sharing stories of his many sporting adventures, completed with trophies hanging on the barber shop wall. In recent years the shop was closed more, as doctor’s visits and medical issues sometimes led to a temporary sign in the shop window that gave apologetic notice and was signed simply “Bob.”
With a reach and influence that spanned several generations in the local area, Bob and his wife Pat raised five children as well.
Survived in turn by his wife of 66 years along with children, grandchildren, and great-children, Valk was remembered by community members with great affection, one saying simply “I loved that man.”
Laid to rest in a gray suit and tie with blue shirt, in a casket with art that bore witness to his love of the outdoors the flower tributes continued to express gratitude.
“It was an honor to know you,” said one.
“He was a great man and will never be forgotten,” shared another. With funeral home attendees given a chance to sign the guest book and a memento poem by Delmar Pepper that shared Bob had gone to fish with “the Master of the Seas,” the feeling of community appreciation was returned, as expressed by a sign with Valk’s photo for those leaving the funeral home. It simply said, “Thank you for the honor of being your hometown barber.”
A full obituary appears above this story.