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WWII veteran and South Nashville barber 'Mr. Flagg' remembered

Mr. Flagg
Posted at 6:44 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 21:21:19-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are people who are so reliable, so constant, we can't imagine our community without them. People are sharing memories of a man who diligently served generations of families from a tiny building on Lafayette Street.

"That's about the third rewrite," said Janet Flagg Hoard, sitting in front of a few pages of loose leaf paper. "I'm gonna read this little section. 'My dad reminded us that a barber works for every dime he earns.'"

How do you sum up someone you love into just a few pages? That's exactly what Hoard is doing in writing about her dad, Benjamin Flagg.

"Mr. Flagg," she said, referring to how everyone referred to her father. "I would come in the house when he was there, and I would say, 'what's up, dad?' His answer was always, 'you' in his deep voice. 'You.'"

Life for Mr. Flagg was regimented, everything precisely on time, especially when it came to his one-chair Flagg's Barber Shop on Lafayette Street. Hoard said that regiment came from her father's history as a World War II veteran, who was also a barber at Fort Campbell at one time.

"Wherever he had to be, he was on time," she continued. "He was dependable."

Mr. Flagg became a barber on Lafayette St. more than 70 years ago and became the owner of the building in 1957.

"There were times there were customers who didn't have the money to pay him," Hoard remembered. "He let them pay him later. There were times customers were sick. He would cut their hair at their sick bed. That was daddy. People would say, 'when you going to retire, Mr. Flagg?' He'd say, 'I'm not ever going to retire.'"

Mr. Flagg did retire at 93-years-old, spending more time with Genora, his wife since 1947.

"Oh my goodness, she was the love of his life," smiled Hoard. "He would say to me, 'oh, she's so smart.'"

Mr. Flagg has died at 98-years-old. In the eulogy Hoard is writing, she's telling the story of a World War II veteran, a barber for more than 75 years, and a constant, dependable figure of South Nashville.

"I was strong for the first few days," she said. "Then, I went into my tear mode, still knowing my daddy's happy up there. So right now, I say, 'what's up, dad?' I can hear him say, 'you.'"

The visitation for Mr. Flagg was Friday eventing at Thompson's Mortuary in Ripley. The funeral will be held there Saturday at noon.