Last residence:  Redding, CA

Life since high school:

No info directly from Kurt, as he reportedly does not have nor use a computer.  Ed Hart reports Kurt has a barber shop in Redding (see photo below)

Kurt Hibbard cuts hair of Lou Siegel

People are leaving notes on the shop window of beloved downtown Redding barber days after his death

David Benda, Redding Record Searchlight Published 10:35 p.m. PT Dec. 11, 2018

Kathleen Saxer’s Downtown Java & Café was a few steps away from Kurt Hibbard’s barbershop in the Market Street Promenade.

Hibbard would visit Saxer for his daily cup of Earl Grey tea, the bag often steeped in a large black-and-red mug emblazoned with the letter “K.”

“He drank Earl Grey tea every day, always looking for that perfect balance of lemon and sugar in that tea,” Saxer said Monday afternoon at her café.

A downtown fixture for more than 30 years, Donald "Kurt" Hibbard died Nov. 20 after an illness. He was 71.

Hibbard meant different things to different people, Saxer said, noting that a day in the life of his longtime Redding business was like “Barbershop” the movie: Hibbard behind the chair, clippers in hand, discussing among other things music, books, movies and sports with customers, or friends who would pop in to chat.

Remembrances of “Kurt the Barber” are posted on the window of his shop.

“Kurt considered himself a barber, and he was, but actually he was a philosopher, film, and history buff who happened to cut hair,” John Waldrop wrote.

Hibbard’s gall bladder burst a few months ago. He was recovering when he died unexpectedly two days before Thanksgiving, Saxer said.

It’s been a heartbreaking year for Saxer, who lost her husband to cancer after an eight-year battle. She teared up at times as she remembered Hibbard.

“He was here two days before he passed. Sure, he lost some weight — he said 40 pounds — but he was here, he was smiling, he was optimistic,” Saxer said, pausing, “I’m ready for things to stop changing. I’m ready for a new year.”

Saxer is inviting friends, family and customers to her coffee shop on noon Saturday to celebrate Hibbard’s life.

“I’m just hoping people show up,” she said.

Hibbard and his wife, Charlene, moved to Redding from San Mateo in 1986 after Hibbard bought Robbie’s Barber Shop downtown. Charlene’s parents had retired to Redding earlier and her father was a regular at Robbie’s, Hibbard’s obituary said.

Terri Holt works at Barton Overheard Door. Her office was above Hibbard’s barbershop.

“I used to trade books with him. He was a super nice guy,” Holt said.

Holt’s son started going to Hibbard for haircuts.

“He ended up cutting my son’s hair. My son would not go anywhere else after that,” Holt said. “Kurt would talk to him, and my son would come back, ‘He knows a lot of stuff.’ He was a real interesting guy.”

Michele Goedert, who manages properties in the Market Street Promenade, said Hibbard was up for discussing any topic.

“If you ever wanted a detailed conversation about history or literature, Kurt was your guy,” she said. “He was a very understated guy but very well-educated and intelligent, and a great conversationalist and he certainly is going to be missed by our downtown village.”

 Goedert started a GoFundMe account to help with Hibbard’s medical bills.

“He had a twinkle in his eye and seemed in good spirits,” she said. “I was hopeful that he was going to get better and be back at the shop.”

Rex Thompson knew Hibbard for nearly 20 years. The two would meet up at Downtown Java when it was Sue’s Java Café.

“We would talk about literature and movies. All of a sudden I had found this kindred spirit in this town,” Thompson said. “Eventually, he did become my barber. Kurt, God bless him, he knew how to do one haircut. Everybody came out of there with the same haircut. But they kept coming back for years.”

Thompson said it was all about the conversation with his longtime friend.

Recently, Thompson was watching one of Hibbard’s favorite movies, “Vera Cruz,” starring Gary Cooper.

“I was thinking, I need to talk to Kurt about it. But he’s not here. The conversation is over and that is a big void,” Thompson said. 

In addition to his wife, Hibbard is survived by his daughter, Claudine; son, Brian; and three grandchildren.

Notes from Ed Harrison:  

Just a few of my notes about Kurt's Celebration of Life.

It was a very small gathering of about 35-40 people who just told stories about their memories of Kurt at his Barbershop, and what a philosopher he was and how much he knew about so many things.

I spoke about my memories and Ray (Lenci)'s memories of Kurt from High School. I knew some of the people there that I didn't even know, knew Kurt.

I gave Charlene, Kurt's wife, our condolences from his High School Classmates. She knew who I was and was very glad that I came.

It wasn't real clear about his actual death, but as the article I shared said, he had his Gallbladder rupture three weeks before. Some thought that they were trying to get the infection under control before doing surgery. Others thought he had the surgery and was recovering. His wife told me that she thought his heart may have given out, but I didn't want to ask too many questions.

He was loved by many.

I would see Kurt walking all over town and never saw him drive. When I would run into him at different places, he was always very friendly and always brought up high school classmates names. I guess that's what we had in common. He always wore a hat like in the photo in the article I forwarded. I always suspected that he might be bald although I'm not sure of that. Some might say that he was eccentric.

They were taking up collections to help Charlene with medical expenses and it was very clear that they didn't have any insurance, or much of anything else. I hope that Medicare helped.

I was very glad that I went.