Louis “Red” Soucy doled out jokes and haircuts at his barber shop on Main Street for six decades, endearing himself to the three generations of Saco-area residents who knew him simply as Red the Barber.
Soucy, a World War II Navy veteran and Saco native, died Thursday at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. He was 87.
Soucy was an iconic figure in Saco, known for his unfaltering smile and enthusiastic musical performances. He was quick with jokes – mostly cheesy, but occasionally risqué – and words of encouragement for anyone he encountered.
Soucy owned Red’s Barber Shop for close to 60 years before he retired around 2008.
When he opened his shop on Main Street in Biddeford in 1949, he charged 74 cents for a haircut. Within two years, he moved his business to Saco, where he would become a mainstay on Main Street and a beloved friend to many.
A slight man whose once-red hair thinned to reveal a freckled scalp, Soucy often wore a pair of glasses on the tip of his nose while he clipped hair and chatted with his customers.
Craig Pendleton, a lifelong Saco resident who now heads the local chamber of commerce, remembers getting a crew cut from Soucy in 1968, when Pendleton was 6. Pendleton’s father, grandfather and brother also frequented Red’s Barber Shop.
“His shop was a multi-generational place. And he was such a character in this community,” Pendleton said. “He held onto his Main Street business for a long, long time. It takes a special breed to adapt to all those changes through the years.”
Mark Johnston, a former mayor who owns a store downtown, described Soucy as “an institution on our Main Street.”
Johnston said he was a young child when he started going to Soucy for haircuts. He said he’ll never forget Soucy’s uncanny ability to recall details about every person he encountered.
“He was more like an interrogator. He dug as much information out of you as he could,” Johnston said. “The next time he saw you, he knew your name and where you lived.”
More importantly, Johnston said, Soucy was a strong supporter of veterans, often helping to organize parades and ceremonies to commemorate the twin cities’ fallen troops. Soucy often said the prayer during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.
“He was part of that generation that gave to their country and to their community,” Johnston said. “He’ll be very missed.”
In the 1980s, Soucy narrated a historical tour of Saco that was recorded and kept at the Dyer Library. He lived most of his life within blocks of the house where he was raised, and often described downtown Saco as “my playground.”
When he wasn’t working, Soucy could be found singing and strumming a guitar with his musical partner, Roland Bergeron, at nursing homes, hospitals and churches.
Their first public performance was for soldiers who visited Saco Island during World War II. They retired from performing in 2010, only to come back for occasional shows because they found it hard to walk away from the music.
Soucy’s love for Lorraine, his wife of 67 years, who died in January 2013, was evident to anyone who ever heard him talk about her and her famous Swiss steak, the first meal she ever cooked for him. She cooked lunch for her husband every day for more than 60 years.
Together, they raised their daughter, Linda Soucy Worster, and doted on their grandchildren and extended family.
Soucy credited his wife with getting him to perform in nursing homes, a passion that carried him through his later years.
“We’ve had good lives,” Soucy said in 2010. “Music keeps you going, really. Yes, that’s what keeps you going.”
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: