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Terry F. Cool Sr.

July 16, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • This photo of Rhonda and Terry Cool was taken in 2009, after Terrys diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Submitted Photo

Rhonda Cool admits she was spoiled. Since meeting Terry F. Cool Sr. in 1989, he had been the only one to cut her hair.

She just had her first haircut by someone else, and she said it's going to take some getting used to.

"He always knew how I liked it," Rhonda said.

Known as one of the foursome of longtime barbers at Razor's Edge Barber Shop — which now is in Fountainhead Plaza behind Olympia Candy Kitchen — Terry had quite a following of regular customers.

Terry kept neatly trimmed the hair of his family members — including two of his three children, two stepchildren and five grandchildren, who called him "PapPap" — until about a month before his death, when he no longer had the strength.

"He was a hard worker and proud of his family. He loved his grandchildren. He couldn't get enough of them," Rhonda said.

Son Matthew Cool, who suffered a head injury during birth, died in 1997 at age 21.

Sam Rock, owner of Razor's Edge, said Terry worked with him at the shop for 35 years, joining him three years after he started the business.

"I believe that he was a godsend," Rock said. "I'm thankful for the years he worked with me."

Terry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008, and had surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments, in hopes of a full recovery and a return to work at the barbershop.

Instead, Terry endured a three-year battle with cancer and wasn't able to work at the shop. He died at home as he requested, with Rhonda by his side holding his hand.

Caramel, a cocker spaniel the Cools got in April 2009, also was by Terry's side. Terry trained Caramel, one of a long line of beloved pets, while he was sick.

"I really believe if we hadn't gotten her, he wouldn't have lasted as long," Rhonda said. "I think she kept him going."

Terry was born and raised in Waynesboro, Pa., and lived on the Maryland side of State Line. His father worked for the railroad, and cut hair in the evenings and on weekends.

He died when Terry was 12, leaving his oldest son as "man of the house," Rhonda said.

Terry went to North Hagerstown High School in ninth grade, then to Massanutten Military Academy in 1964 and 1965, before attending the Baltimore School of Barbering.

He started cutting hair at age 17 or 18 for several years at South End Barber Shop, then was hired by Rock at Razor's Edge in 1970.

Rhonda worked at Allegany Optical on Leitersburg Pike, which was near Razor's Edge's former location near Long Meadow Shopping Center. Her first husband had died and she was raising two young children.

She was having car trouble and Terry came out to see if she needed help. Rhonda lamented that she had a birthday coming up and no one to have dinner with. Terry took her out for a birthday dinner, the start of a friendship that ended with their marriage in 1993.

"I feel we became friends first and that kept us going throughout," Rhonda said. "He treated me with respect. We came up with a lot of obstacles, but got through them."

Blending the four children from two families was a challenge. They lived in the State Line, Pa., house Terry and his first wife, from whom he was divorced, built in 1974. He was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in State Line, Pa.

With four children ranging in age from 7 to 15, there were bound to be conflicts, but Rhonda said the couple was determined to make things work.

Stepdaughter Danielle Reed of Greencastle, Pa., admits that she and Terry Cool Jr. struggled at first.

"We gave him a run for his money," she said of Terry Sr. "Challenging would be a good word."

"Terry and I wouldn't let it get to us," Rhonda said. "He didn't refer to them as 'my kids' or 'your kids'. He said, 'We're a family and that's how it is.'"

"Now, we're a very close-knit family. It carries us through times like this," said daughter Melissa Reed of Greencastle, the oldest of the children.

Danielle said she called her stepfather "Dad" and added that even though Terry Sr. didn't agree with some of the decisions she made, he still supported her. She is finishing her studies to become a registered nurse thanks to his encouragement.

The family vacationed in Wildwood and Cape May, N.J., first camping in tents. As the family grew, they bought a trailer and even took it to Maine. Terry also was known for his trips for ice cream with the grandchildren and his love for motorcycles.

Terry was quick with a smile and a joke, even as his illness progressed. Terry Jr. said he could tell when a sarcastic comment was coming from his father because he would raise his right eyebrow and start grinning.

"He was very sarcastic," Terry said. "I think he passed that down to me."

His advice to his children was to never break their word and always take pride in what they did. He modeled a strong work ethic.

"My father was a very good man, a kind individual. He'd give you the shirt off his back," said Melissa, who added that he always welcomed extended family and friends into his home.

"My friends thought of him as a dad," Terry said.

He added that his father was his best friend and kept him in line.

"I will always love, respect and take pride in that you, Terry Cool, are my dad and my hero," the younger Terry wrote.

Stepson James L. Footen II of Reisterstown, Md., said he was 4 years old when his biological father died.

"Terry accepted me with open arms into his home and as his son. ... He really was my dad," James wrote.

James shared Terry Sr.'s love of motorcycle riding and is a certified motorcycle mechanic as a result.

"I miss him for a lot of things, but one of the biggest is that no one can cut my hair like he did," James wrote.

James added Terry Sr. knew a lot of people. Even while vacationing in Maine, they ran into someone his stepfather knew.

"When he became your friend, he was your friend for life," Rhonda said.

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