Eugene ‘Ray’ Brown: ‘Barbering taught me how to love again’

Ray Brown’s anxiety after serving in the military kept him from steady work. That anxiety disappears with a set of clippers in his hands.

Presented by: Our York Media
Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Eugene ‘Ray’ Brown (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

By the time Eugene “Ray” Brown finished his third deployment to Iraq, the nine-year Army veteran was ready to leave the military.

The York native would hate saying goodbye to his two children, knowing that goodbye could be the last. When a friend died during a combat mission in 2010, that was it.

“He wasn’t even supposed to be there,” Ray says. “He died when he could have been home, and I realized then I needed to get out.”

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His friend’s death and the years in the military left Ray scarred with anxiety. He worked odd jobs but couldn’t seem to keep any.

“Some days I wake up, and I’m just not having it,” Ray says. “My hands shake, and I get nervous about things, so I have to call out. I’d work at one job and have to call out so often that they had to let me go.”

Everybody has a story and a struggle. Being a barber, I can be that ear for people to help them feel better.

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Ray Brown

Last year, Ray crossed paths with Patrick Winter, who runs a barber school downtown.

Ray cut hair for years. In ninth grade, it was a way to help make it easier for his mother to pay bills. In the military, it was an extra source of income. He never considered making it a career until he met Pat.

“The way Pat talked about barbering, it sounded more like passion and love,” Ray says. “I wanted that feeling he had.”

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There’s a trust that’s built up between Ray and his clients. They don’t just trust him with their hair but their emotions.

“It’s a no-judgement zone when you sit in my chair,” Ray says. “Everybody has a story and a struggle. Being a barber, I can be that ear for people to help them feel better.”

When Ray has a set of clippers in his hands, it helps himself escape the chaos of anxiety.

“Barbering taught me how to love again,” Ray says. “It’s done more than taught me how to cut hair; it’s showed me perspective on things.”

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