Lonnie Neail Henslee, "The Cowboy Barber," passed away December 19, 2012, at Mesilla Valley Hospice in Las Cruces at the age of 82.
Lonnie was born in Rochester, Texas. He came to New Mexico at an early age. In 1952 he married Ava Jo Walker and they moved to the family farm where his father-in-law, Stoney Walker, became his respected mentor and endeared hunting and fishing companion.
His farming career was interrupted when called to serve in the armed forces in 1954 and was stationed in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1956, after his discharge, he returned to the family farm. The decline in farming led to his career as barber in 1962, first at the Star Barber Shop, later a partner in the Elite Barber Shop, and eventually the owner.
Lonnie will be remembered for his tales of Southwest New Mexico history. His shop was more than a place to get a haircut. It was a place to visit and listen to his historical tales of days gone by.
He took great pride in his collection of memorabilia and was an avid reader of Southwest History. As a teen, ranch life lured him to the bootheel of New Mexico and adventures of cowboy life. His knowledge, experiences and stories were a source of interest to patrons and writer's who sought out and published his tales in several books and articles.
Lonnie was also known for his "old fashioned haircut" - not a hair style - followed by a hot lather neck trim and, at times, a head message.
As his health declined, it looked as if his shop doors would close when a young man just out of barber school, Juan Barraza, approached Lonnie and wanted to learn his techniques for cutting old fashioned haircuts.
Juan has taken a stance behind a chair in Lonnie's shop and doors are still open.
Lonnie's spirit will always remain at the Elite Barber Shop, and if you close your eyes and listen, you can still hear his stories
He was a devoted and active member of Masonic Lodge No. 12, and served as Master of the lodge. He wore his Masonic ring with great pride to his last breath. He was also an active member of the Shrine Club.
Lonnie is survived by his wife of 60 years, Ava Jo (Walker) Henslee, daughter, Deborah Henslee, Las Cruces, son, Monnie (Edwina) Henslee, Hobbs, grandsons, Taylor and Tylor Henslee, Lubbock, sister, Berna Lee Hobbs, Deming and many nieces and nephews.
Lonnie was preceded in death by his dear grandchildren, Ryan and Crysta Henslee, his parents Walter Harmon and Jessie Irene Henslee, his sister Margie Cozar and his best fishing and hunting buddy, Stoney Walker and his mother-in-law, Hester Walker.
Words cannot express the respect and gratitude to Dr. Lundy, Marcella and Sylvia for their compassion and support throughout Lonnie's illness. Thank you to all the healthcare professionals for their efforts in helping Lonnie.
Lonnie's wishes were to be cremated. A memorial service will be held Thursday January 3, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Baca's Funeral Chapel, 811 S. Gold in Deming, New Mexico.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to Mesilla Valley Hospice, 299 Montana Avenue, Las Cruces, NM 88005 or Ambercare, 707 E. Pine St., Deming, NM 88030.
Entrusted to the care of Baca's Funeral Chapels and Mimbres Crematory - exclusive provider for "Veterans & Family Memorial Care."
To sign the online guest book or to send a card, please visit our website at www.bacasfuneralchapels.com.
Baca's is located at 811 S. Gold Avenue, Deming, NM, 88030. Phone: (575)546-9671.