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Shepherdstown mourns death of beloved barber

February 24, 2000

Grobosky's barber shopBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Many of Mike Grobosky's acquaintances in Shepherdstown never knew his last name. They just called him Mike.

Grobosky, 56, a Shepherdstown barber, died Tuesday afternoon in the intensive care unit of Fairfax Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va., after a three-vehicle accident Tuesday morning on W.Va. 45 in Martinsburg, W.Va.

On Thursday fresh flowers and personal messages were at the front door of the shop. Someone had turned on the barber pole in tribute.

Children in town knew Grobosky for the big bowl of candy that he kept by the door.

The accident occurred across the street from the home of Edna Grobosky, his mother. It happened barely four miles from the scene of a July 4 accident in which Grobosky crashed into a wall. His wife, Mary Anna, was killed in that accident and Grobosky had a broken neck, ribs, knee and a punctured lung. He was just recovering from those injuries, his mother said.

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Grobosky lived in Martinsburg and was on his way to work around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday when the accident happened, his mother said. He usually works out in a local gym before leaving for work, she said.

Seizures were considered factors in both accidents, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the Tuesday crash. It was unclear whether Grobosky died of injuries resulting from the accident or from complications from a medical condition, said Capt. Curtis Keller of the sheriff's department. "We won't know until the final test results come in," he said.

Edna Grobosky said she didn't know the nature of her son's medical problems, only that he was being treated for seizures at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg. Grobosky served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1962 to 1966, she said.

Several of Grobosky's friends said he knew it was unsafe to drive and that he was looking for a place to live in Shepherdstown.

Grobosky ran his barber shop in a small rented space at 118 E. German St. since 1995 and in another location in town before that. He was a barber all his working life, as was his father before him. Bruno Grobosky ran a barber shop at 116 E. German St. until 1970, Edna Grobosky said.

According to police, Grobosky was eastbound on Woodbury Avenue Tuesday morning when his car failed to stop at the intersection with W.Va. 45. He struck a westbound van broadside, continued on to clip the front end of a westbound Honda sedan following behind the van and slammed into a house. There were no other injuries in the accident, police said.

Grobosky was flown to the hospital in Fairfax on Tuesday and pronounced dead around 3:30 p.m., his mother said.

"I just found out a few minutes ago that he died," said George Antolini, a customer and friend of Grobosky. "He was very outgoing with a good word for everybody. He was always willing to listen to your problems."

"He'd do anything for anybody," said Bill Holroyd, a longtime friend and customer. "I went in the shop every day. You learn all about the news in town there. Sometimes at night he'd open the shop so the college kids could play music."

"A lot of people in this town are going to miss Mike," said Gina Duncan, a waitress at Tony's Pizza a few doors down the street from the barber shop. "He'd come in for lunch and chit-chat with us. He cut my kid's hair and always gave him candy."

Dan Westermeyer, 10, was a regular customer in the shop. "He was always nice to me. He gave me doughnuts when he cut my hair."

One of the messages left on the barber shop door read: "Thank you for all the love and candy. We will miss you. Chandler and MacLaine. (Eric and Joy too)."

Edna Grobosky was in the intensive care unit with her son, she said. "I prayed in the ICU and told the Lord, 'You gave him to me for 56 years, and if he's prepared for you, then I'll give him back to you.'"

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