Barber Nick Palomares, known for celebrity encounters at his shop within the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, has died.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono were among his most famous clients.
His son, Nicholas Palomares, said his father died Wednesday. He passed away in his sleep at his Fresno home.
Up until recent days, Mr. Palomares was still cutting hair, at age 82 – although a foot surgery a few weeks ago forced him to take a break. He also had a heart condition.
Mr. Palomares spoke with The Bee last year for a feature story about his colorful career.
His 14 foot-by-20 foot space, Nicholas Jet-Set Haircutting For Men, was covered wall-to-wall with framed photos of musicians, actors, athletes and politicians he met over more than half a century of cutting hair.
“I sort of like the fact that it becomes a statement to say, ‘Fresno is not a hick town,' " he said of his celebrity photos, "because otherwise you wouldn’t have these people coming here.’"
His long list of famous visitors included actors Chuck Norris and the late Richard Kiel; athletes Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice; musicians Carlos Santana, Dolly Parton, Little Richard, and The Righteous Brothers; and television and radio personality Dick Clark.
The majority of his celebrity visitors at the Fresno airport only stopped in to say hello, but he cherished every interaction.
All the photos in his shop were of people he met at the airport, with the exception of a few, including The Beatles co-founder and his wife, who wandered into his old barber shop in San Francisco in 1970.
He kept some of Lennon and Ono's hair in a golden frame at his Fresno shop that he opened in 1972.
"He loved his job," his son said. "He loved the social aspect of being in the airport and the notoriety it afforded him with the pictures."
The Fresno airport released a statement Friday about Mr. Palomares, calling him "our treasured community celebrity."
Airport officials said Mr. Palomares was "extremely delighted to be one of very few airport barbers open for business" and that people admired his professionalism and cheerfulness.
There aren't yet plans for what will become of his barber shop, which Mr. Palomares leased from the airport. His son said airport officials have been kind and patient with his family, and that some kind of memorial may be installed at the airport to remember him.
Nicholas Palomares said his father was "constantly positive and joyful to be around."
"It was very very rare that my father ever sported a frown on his face."
Mr. Palomares grew up in Lemoore as the son of a farmer who grew tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. He became a barber after he served in the U.S. Navy as a signalman.
He got his inspiration from cutting a friend’s hair in the Navy. He liked that he was good at it and that it was artistic.
“I have a creative mind,” he said. “I like to study hair. There’s a lot to that part of it that isn’t taken up by other barbers.”
Born: June 23, 1935
Died: May 23, 2018
Survivors: Wife Anita Palomares, son Nicholas Palomares, and two grandchildren.
Services: 4-6 p.m. visitation and 6 p.m. Rosary on June 3 at Boice Funeral Home, 308 Pollasky Ave., Clovis. Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. June 4 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 929 Harvard Ave., Clovis.