KENNEBUNK — Business owners in downtown Kennebunk expressed shock and sadness over the unexpected passing of Jim Rogers, a well-known barber who owned Kennebunk Barber Shop for 40 years.
Rogers, who cut the hair of generations of Kennebunk residents, died on Wednesday after suffering a stroke. He was 68.
He opened his barber shop on Main Street in 1973, and relocated the business to the Lafayette Center in 1984.
Rogers was remembered Friday as an “icon” in the historic downtown district.
He had a thriving business that drew a steady stream of customers of all ages.
“He was my barber for years until I lost all my hair,” said Karl Hooper, who owned Marier’s Men’s Shop on Main Street for 57 years. “He was a good friend. I always used to stop in and pass the time of day.”
Rogers walked through town every day and often stopped to talk with business owners.
“He was like a legend downtown,” said Linda Johnson, chairwoman of the Kennebunk Downtown Committee. “To go by there (Thursday) and not see his pole lit up … that’s when the reality hit. I thought I would see him forever. This is so sudden. I don’t even know how to express the sadness and loss.”
On Friday morning, two of his customers waited outside his shop to get a haircut. By midday, a few bouquets of flowers were left by his door.
David Cluff, owner of Duffy’s Tavern & Grill, said it’s a huge loss to the community.
“Everyone knew Jim and had that connection with him as our local barber,” Cluff said. “We’ve lost a great friend. We’ve lost a great businessman. We’re a very tight-knit community. It affects a lot of us.”
Town Manager Barry Tibbetts noted Rogers’ steady clientele and personable approach with customers.
“He was really someone that represented small business on Main Street,” Tibbetts said. “It’s the kind of place where everyone goes in to say hello. … It’s an absolute loss not to have Jimmy here with his wit, charm and steadiness.”
Brian O’Donnell, a longtime friend who played golf with Rogers, said he was a healthy and active guy.
“I felt like someone punched me in the gut,” O’Donnell said after learning that Rogers had died.
“I never heard one person say a bad word about him. He was one of those people that walked the walk,” O’Donnell said.
Rogers, who lived in Wells, grew up in Eliot and attended local schools. He left high school to join the Navy and served for four years.
The week he was discharged, he married Sheila Rogers, who became his wife for 27 years. The couple raised a daughter, Gina Kinsella of Boxford, Mass.
Rogers was remembered by his family Friday as a kind and thoughtful person who was devoted to them.
“We were divorced for over 20 years and he mowed my lawn every week,” his former wife said. “He was always there for me, always.”
In addition to his former wife, Rogers is survived by his daughter and six grandchildren. Kinsella said her parents visited regularly.
“He was a great dad and a great grandfather and we miss him a lot,” she said.
A memorial service will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at Hope Memorial Chapel, 480 Elm St. in Biddeford.
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: