Joseph ‘Joe’ Horbas Jr., 84

Joseph “Joe” Horbas Jr., “Joe The Barber,” passed gracefully into the Lord’s care on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, at the age of 84.

Joe was born to Joseph and Barbara Horbas, May 12, 1929. As a young man he was a gifted athlete and played a variety of sports. He was a valued player on the Custer High School football team and excelled on the gymnastics team. Early on, he developed a love of nature, especially fishing, gardening and planting trees.

In 1950, when he met Dorothy, he found the love of his life; they married six months later. Shortly after Joe and Dorothy married, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served proudly in Panama and Greenland during the Korean War. Joe was honorably discharged from the Army in 1953.

When Joe returned home, he focused on his future and his family. He worked for the Milwaukee Forestry Department as a tree trimmer before attending Milwaukee Area Technical College, where he obtained his diploma from the school of barbering and cosmetology.

Beginning in 1955, he worked at several multichair shops in Wauwatosa and Milwaukee. In 1959, he set up a shop of his own, Colonial Barbershop, located at 137 Green Bay Road in Thiensville; his business was in this location for 51 years. In 2010, the building was sold and the new owner wanted Joe’s space.

Joe thought perhaps this meant he should retire, but said, “This is what I know, this is what I love.” His shop was a permanent hub for the community’s men, and a few brave women too. In many instances, he clipped three generations of family members. A listener, Joe developed lasting relationships with a diverse variety of people. Without ever leaving his shop, Joe saw the world through his clients’ stories. He bore witness to his community’s history: births, marriages, divorces, illnesses and deaths.

At the end of a long day, Joe could be seen carrying the brown leather doctor’s bag his mother had given him, complete with clippers and shears, making house calls for customers too ill to come into the shop.

With his easy manner and compassionate nature, Joe dispensed more than just haircuts; he dispensed the wisdom he had acquired and he was admired by many as a storyteller, philosopher and friend.

Not ready to hang up his shears, Joe accepted the offer to rent space within the TL and Company Hair Salon, located just down the street from his old shop. There, Joe continued to operate Colonial Barbershop and to serve his customers. Joe will be remembered as a skilled craftsman. With Dorothy at his side, he designed and built their dream home, personally selecting field stone from a quarry. He learned to hand rub plaster walls from a German mason, he honed beams for the ceiling by hand and he repurposed an old oak dance hall floor, bringing it to new life.

Artistically inclined, he was a woodworker who could not only design and build tables, quilt racks and butcher blocks, but often could be found hand-carving wood into works of art or embellishing the furniture he made with his carved designs. Whether it was drawing plans for his next project, a landscape or people, he loved sketching.

Joe was the cherished husband of Dorothy for 63 years; the dearly loved father of Gail (Ken) Hofmann, Debra Horbas, Curt (Christine) Horbas and Lori Horbas (Steven Carini); he was the tender and loving grandfather to Jennifer (Paul) Watts, Joseph Horbas, Paul (Kiriann) Carini, Margaux Carini and Ashley (Tom) Fransee; and the affectionate great-grandfather to Taeh and Joey Horbas, Lucia Carini and Devon Watts; and, the adoring owner of Sophie, his beloved lapdog.

He is further survived by his sisters, Mary Ann (the late Manuel) Lang, Theresa (Don) Otto and Barbara (the late Jim) Lalk; nieces, nephews and lifelong friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Barbara Horbas.

The family will receive friends at the Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral and Cremation Service, 10280 N. Port Washington Road, Mequon, on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with the celebration of Joe’s life beginning at 1 p.m.

Memorials to the family, or the charity of your choice, are appreciated.

Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral and Cremation Service in Mequon is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit