Top barber closes up shop

Retirement: After more than 50 years, the man whose work prominent Baltimoreans considered a cut above the rest has hung up his clippers.

March 17, 2004|By Lauren Harner | Lauren Harner,SUN STAFF

When sportscaster Jim McKay went to barber George Pinsch for his monthly haircut, there was one topic Pinsch always liked to discuss -- Luxembourg's one-man Olympics team.

McKay, a former ABC announcer best known for his Olympics commentary and as the voice of ABC's Wide World of Sports, was always tickled by Pinsch's interest in the Olympics program of Luxembourg, the country where Pinsch grew up.

"He liked to talk about sports in Luxembourg," McKay said. "It was just a great place to get your hair cut."

Pinsch, who retired last month, cut the hair of some of Baltimore's biggest names in business and politics. From the 18th floor of the Legg Mason building in downtown Baltimore, he offered his customers a haircut, conversation and a commanding view of Baltimore and the harbor.

"He gave a really great haircut," M. David Testa, the chief investment officer at T. Rowe Price said. "George was the one barber I found that I enjoyed talking to."

Also among his patrons were T. Rowe Price President George Roche, and Legg Mason's general counsel Bob Price. Pinsch also cut the hair of two U.S. District Court judges, J. Frederick Motz and Benson E. Legg, as well as former Gov. Harry R. Hughes.

Testa remembers searching for a good barber for years before finally finding Pinsch. Although their day-to-day lives may have been different, the two men found that they shared common ground -- both spent their childhood in Europe.

"The barber was a true gentleman who truly cared about you and asked you about your family," Dorsey Brown, a principal for Alex. Brown Investment Management, said.

Brown went to Pinsch for nearly 15 years, and recalled the many stories that the barber told about being in Luxembourg during World War II. He recalls Pinsch describing what it was like to live there during the German occupation and to constantly fear the Nazi soldiers.

Pinsch's clients said they discussed a broad range of topics with him but two were always off-limits -- religion and politics.

"People have different opinions and you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings," Pinsch said.

Pinsch, 75, who immigrated to Baltimore in 1953 and now lives in Cockeysville, owned the shop for 20 years. By the time he retired, he had cut the hair of several hundred clients, most of whom heard of him through word of mouth.

Jack Mosley, the former head of USF&G Insurance and one of his first clients, rented Pinsch the shop for the sake of convenience.

The barbershop was listed in the phone book for a short time, but when the client list began to expand rapidly, Pinsch couldn't fit in his usual customers. Shortly after, he removed the business from the directory and never advertised again.

"I'd rather do people that I know," Pinsch said.

Now that he has retired, Pinsch said, he plans to travel and "take it easy," but will miss his barbershop.

"I miss getting to interact with people I worked with for over 50 years," he said.

When Pinsch announced his retirement, Brown, Price, and Timothy Schweizer, the president of Brown Advisory Securities, threw him a luncheon at the Center Club, just a few floors below where his barber chair once sat. Pinsch's wife, daughter and 71 of his current and past clients attended.

"He has even more clients than that. It was a great showing," Schweizer said.

Even Pinsch was taken aback by the reception.

"It was wonderful, and I still can't get over it," Pinsch said.

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