By Jonathan Phelps
---- — IPSWICH — A black ribbon was tied to the pole outside Ye Olde Barber Shop yesterday as many in town mourned the loss of its owner, Brian H. Lombard.
Lombard, 72, was killed during a single-car crash at the intersection of Essex and Candlewood roads around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, after his car went off the road and struck a tree. Police believe that a medical condition may have caused the accident, which is still under investigation.
The shop at 44 Central St. was closed yesterday.
“Nobody expected this,” said Charlie Tsoutsouras, the owner of Central Shoe Repair nearby. “I saw him last week walking over to the Cumberland Farms to get coffee for everybody, and he walked back.”
Tsoutsouras said Lombard, a retired state trooper, continued to cut hair a couple of days a week.
“Everyone knew Brian,” he said. “He was as popular as a local can be.”
Lombard grew up in Ipswich and Hamilton and graduated in 1958 from Hamilton High School, where he was voted best athlete. He enlisted in the service and then studied criminal justice at North Shore Community College.
Lombard worked as patrolman in Ipswich, starting part time in 1963 and moving up to full time in 1966. He left the department in 1969 to become a state trooper, where he moved up the ranks to staff sergeant.
After retiring in the early 1990s, he opened Ye Olde Barber Shop in a small storefront connected to the shoe repair shop. There was only one chair and a classic black-and-white title floor, recalled Kevin Lombard, Lombard’s youngest son.
“I remember helping him set it all up,” he said. “It was something for him to do after retiring.”
The shop became so popular, he ended up moving to a building next door, which had more room for chairs.
“From the day he opened that barber shop, it was successful,” Tsoutsouras said. “Everybody loved him. It became the most popular shop in town.”
Brian Lombard — known simply as BH — was described as outgoing and personable by many people in downtown Ipswich yesterday.
“He was a character and loved to joke around if he knew you,” said John Gianakakis Jr., who owns John’s Citgo across the street from the shop. “He never liked to gossip, though. You could go in there and feel comfortable just talking.”
Gianakakis said he enjoyed seeing the same group of men line up outside the shop every Saturday before it opened at 7 a.m.
“It was almost like a fight; they wanted to be the first in the chair,” he said.
Police Chief Paul Nikas, who grew up in town and is friends with Kevin Lombard, remembered Brian as a “hockey and football dad” who was always at the games. He said Lombard was quick-witted and loved joking around.
“You always had to be on your feet intellectually around him, because he was quick with a joke,” Nikas said. “He was a great guy and well-liked.”
Nikas said Lombard was well-known in the department, and most of the officers got their hair cut in his shop.
Lombard and his wife, Barbara, were married for 51 years and had four children, Brian Jr., Michael, Kristen and Kevin, and 12 grandchildren.
Brian Lombard lived an active lifestyle and enjoyed skiing near his second home in Bartlett, N.H. He also had an antique tractor collection.
“He loved to tinker around with projects,” Kevin Lombard said.
Basketball and football were his sports and he often got teased around town for being an avid New York Giants fan. During the Super Bowl in 2012, when the Pats faced off against the Giants, a sign hung in the door to Stone Soup: “No Lombards,” Kevin Lombard remembered.
“Before the Pats were around, the Giants were the hometown team,” he said. “He wanted to stay true to that.”
When it was quiet in the shop, Gianakakis said Lombard would turn his chair and look out the window onto Central Street.
“I’ll just miss looking over and seeing Brian over there,” he said. “He would laugh at me a lot for chasing cars down the street for doing a U-turn in my lot.”
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.