Mr. Rogers, barber/stylist, retires

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Mr. Rogers, renowned barber and hairstylist, has officially retired. Due to COVID-19 restrictions there will not be a public retirement celebration. Congratulatory cards can be sent to Roger Zach at P.O. Box 517, Guttenberg IA 52052. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Renowned barber/stylist and master storyteller Roger Zach, AKA Mr. Rogers, is officially retired. The 82- year-old has stepped away from the barber chair and set down the scissors that he joyously and passionately used to make a living for most of his adult life. 

"It has not been an easy decision," said Zach, owner of Mr. Roger’s Hair Salon in Guttenberg, "but I finally decided to retire."

Setting down roots in Guttenberg

Zach's father taught him to cut hair at age eight on the family farm near Swisher. He joined the Navy after graduating from Solon High School, and served on the USS Shangri La, as a ship store clerk and barber. "They just picked out people to do jobs. I worked in the store and cut hair for many sailors during my time on board," he laughed. 

After serving, Zach enrolled in the Cedar Rapids Barbering School, and studied under Francis Tonn, a famous barber/stylist instructor. In later years, Zach would return to the school to occasionally teach. "I found Guttenberg on a fishing trip with friends. I always dreamed about living on the river. I recall as a child drawing a picture with a house on the shore of a river with a fish pole in the water," the talented barber recollected. "Two weeks later I moved here with my wife, Caroline. I worked for Merv Earl’s Barber Shop next to where Esser’s is now and later bought the business." 

Moved to permanent location

After the flood in 1965, Zach moved his barber shop one block north and purchased the building that housed Mr. Roger’s Hairstyling Salon for men, women and children for many years. Clients drove for miles to have Zach cut their hair. "I used to have a client that flew in from Minneapolis and I would drive out to the Island and pick him up," he reminisced. Zach worked very long hours to accommodate his clients, and offered the latest styles and learned how to do perms. He eventually remodeled his shop to allow for employees as his business grew.

Competitions and Eva Gabor International

"A friend suggested I enter barber contests, so I did – and I won! My biggest award came with a five-foot trophy for the National Barbering Title in 1970," Zach proudly shared. "Someone then suggested selling hairpieces and wigs. I began working with Eva Gabor International and learned all I could about the trade to serve a larger customer base. I learned how to make molds, do fittings, cut and sew in hair to customize, and provide servicing care." Zach also worked with cancer patients from The University of Iowa Hospital who were experiencing hair loss from treatments.

The Male Mane

Zach and longtime friend Bernard Peterson of Garnavillo created a hairpiece company named The Male Mane, a division of Mr. Roger's Incorporated. The business partners traveled to shows across the country, including California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota and New York. Zach, an introvert by nature, had to push away his shy reserve to get on stage in front of hundreds of stylists to teach what he knew about haircutting, wigs and hairpieces. "I loved the atmosphere of a show, and the food afterward, and the people. Even though I was shy I liked being the showman. I filled up the stage. We always had the biggest crowd," he laughed. "We were packed in front of us and stylists on either side had no one. We always did what the audience wanted not what we wanted."

Zach sold many hair care, beauty and health products. "I learned much in the art of selling products and as a distributor over the years. I sold quality hair products, food supplements, odor eliminators, Eureka prepackaged food, Amway, and a skincare/makeup line called Aloe-Mist," he noted. 

Expanding business

In the early 1980’s Zach decided to expand, and opened a large salon in the Midway Motor Lodge in Dubuque. He employed several stylists, welcoming even more clients. He commented, "It was a beautiful state-of-the-art shop. I worked long hours. I could hardly walk up the stairs at the end of the day. I got stretched too thin and experienced some disappointment with employees, and decided to close up shop in Dubuque and focus on my hometown business."

Thankful for Guttenberg

"I have enjoyed my life and I am proud of my accomplishments. I loved the experiences I encountered while working on the road. I raised and provided for my family cutting hair. I was a member of the local Jaycees and served as their president for a time. I always supported the community as much as I could. I bought a lot of Girl Scout cookies to share with my customers." He further noted, "I love watching my daughter Kelley and son Chris and their children – my grandchildren and great-grandchildren — grow. I love fishing and boating and fished commercially for many years as time allowed." 

"I am so grateful and appreciative of the kind and loyal patronage and many friendships I have found through all these years. I want to thank everyone! I have so many wonderful memories and have been able to watch clients as children grow up and bring their children and grandchildren for haircuts by Mr. Rogers. I hope I can keep in touch with these wonderful friends. Moving to Guttenberg was the greatest thing I ever did! People were good to me from day one. Kermit Dubbels was like a father to me and Melvin Dahlstrom was such a good friend," he said with gratitude. 

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, there will not be a public retirement celebration. Zach's daughter, Kelley, commented, "If you would like to send a card they can be sent to Roger Zach at P.O. Box 517, Guttenberg IA 52052. He would love to hear from you!"

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