'I've been blessed well': Beloved Milwaukee barber George Jelich celebrating 90th birthday

Posted at 5:51 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 18:51:19-04

Sit down in George Jelich’s chair at his Glendale barber shop and he’ll likely tell you he is about to turn 90 years old.

When he shares that news, you are unlikely to believe him. The lean, tall cutter moves confidently around his chair and talks constantly while clipping away.

“Being a boss is one thing,” he says, referring to the barber shop he’s owned for decades and his hardscrabble education in the U.S. Navy, “and taking orders is another thing. Some guys are good at taking orders. Some are bad at taking orders. Some are good about giving advice. I’m bad at all of that, but, you know what? I’ve been lucky.”

George will celebrate birthday number 90 on September 11th, but has no intention of slowing down. He estimates he does between 15 and 22 haircuts each week. His most famous client, Bob Uecker, has marveled at his barber’s longevity.

“He asked me one day, he says ‘when are you pulling the pin?’” George recalled with a wry smile. “I said, ‘you got a lot of gall, when are you pulling the pin?’ He said, ‘I’m not.’ I said, ‘I’m not either.’”

George describes himself as having ADHD. He regales customers with stories of quitting school and joining the U.S. Navy before finding his calling, barbering.

“This is one of the best occupations I could pick, barbering,” he says thoughtfully. “Talk as much as you want. Do as much as you want and I love what I do. I really do. I’ve been blessed well.”

That word, “blessed” comes up often when you talk to George Jelich. He views the world as generous place filled with kind and caring people. That view has allowed him to live in just such a world.

“I’ve been a lucky old man,” he says. “I’ve been blessed well!”