In his 50 years of cutting hair in North Braddock, Thomas Pekarcik was simply known as "Tom the Barber."
His customers included many of the men who grew up in the borough or made it their home. And for the younger crowd, getting a cut once school was out for the summer was a yearly ritual that included his four sons.
"If Dad wasn't too busy, he'd allow us to bring our friends in for their summer crew cut," said Carl Pekarcik of East Pittsburgh. "And he'd never let them pay. Once our hair was cut, Dad would say we were OK for the rest of the summer."
Thomas Pekarcik of North Braddock, a retired employee of U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson plant, died Monday, May 26, 2008, in Woodhaven Care Center, Monroeville. He was 81.
"My father did very well as a barber," his son said. "He was a kind man. His friends, his neighbors and his customers knew him as a man who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.
"He also had as customers men he worked with at E.T. and men from the Braddock Volunteer Fire Department, where he was a lifelong member."
Born and raised in North Braddock, Mr. Pekarcik was one of five children of steelworker Stephen Pekarcik and his wife, Priscilla.
When his father was killed in an accident at Edgar Thomson, it fell upon Priscilla Pekarcik to raise her family.
During World War II, Mr. Pekarcik dropped out of high school, enlisted in the Navy and was wounded …