Ronald L. Thomas
Ronald Thomas (1941- ) was born in Gary, Indiana. He began his barbering career by doing dollar flat-top haircuts on his friends. He purchased an Andis Pro Model electric clipper with all the attachments, and the dollar haircuts became a sideline, as well as using his artistic talent to do charcoal portraits while a freshman at the University of New Mexico. His football scholarship ended when a series of injuries prohibited him from playing any longer. He went back home to Gary and found work as an industrial painter where he saved enough money to purchase a wedding and engagement ring set and to pay for him to commute to Moler Barber School, located on West Madison Street on the edge of skid row by the Chicago River.
After 1800 hours of continuing barber education, Ron received his apprenticeship license and worked in a number of small shops in Chicago for a year. His barber instructor, Walter Fasbinder, told him that in order to learn more he needed to join one of the best shops in Chicago, the Continental Barber Salon. In this salon there were all European craftsmen, and Ron was eager to become like them. So in 1961, he met with the owner, Walter Kappel, and did a drawing of him, which Walter liked. Although he had a number of hair shops in Chicago, he had no American barbers in any of them. Ron was the first one hired and did a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship there. During his time there, he also married Elaine, his high school sweetheart.
His love of art also continued as he attended the Ray-Vogue School of Commercial Art in the evenings during his apprenticeship. In 1964, Ron and Elaine moved to Phoenix to open a hair salon. As they were on the way to the hospital for the birth of their first baby, he checked his mailbox to find his Master Barber License, a letter from Disney Studios asking him for an interview and his draft notice.
A year later he and his partner pioneered Ronald’s of London, a by-appointment only European men’s hairstyling salon. This partnership lasted for 13 years when Ron moved on to open Occam’s Edge Haircutters. During the 28 years at this location Ron served four years as chairman of the Arizona State Board of Barbers. He has assisted in the publication of the newsletter and lobbied to improve the laws governing the profession.
Ron continued his interested in art by opening an art gallery in his shop and doing editorial sports cartoons for the Arizona Republic Newspaper. He has illustrated seven books and has a website. He became interested in fly-fishing in 1968 and is the youngest member with a lifetime membership in the Arizona Fly Casters Club. His in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for casting 14 fly rods simultaneously.