Farewell, Joe the Barber

Joe’s Barbershop has been a Concord Pike institution since 1950

Joseph Francis Gioffre passed away on Monday this week at 88, having literally touched the lives – and heads – of generations of faithful clients of his iconic Concord Pike barbershop.

“Joe the Barber” opened Joe’s Barbershop in 1950, in a low-slung red brick building in Fairfax built by his father Francesco “Frank” Gioffre.  Joe started his career working for Frank at his barbershop at 12th and Washington Streets, according to his brother George, who joined the Concord Pike operation in 1954.

 

It was there the two worked their magic together for decades, giving haircuts – and Bazooka Joe bubble gum – to legions of (mostly) men and boys from all around north Wilmington. 

A visit to Joe’s Barbershop was – and still is – a rite of passage for area kids, who back in the day enjoyed browsing copies of Sports Illustrated and comic books and often parked their bikes out front. 

The brothers were masters at bantering with customers of all ages, making each one feel they were part of a special, insiders club – a fun place to be.

Joe (foreground) with George and their team

Regulars will fondly remember Joe’s classic line to those who approached the shop looking for a quick trim, only to see several already seated, presumably on deck for cuts.

“They’re not all waiting!” George Gioffre recounted Joe would shout out to the would-be customers who tried to turn away.

 

The razors at Joe’s Barbershop are still humming today, under the able leadership of George, who continues to see a few of the remaining old-timers who have been regulars since the 50’s, along with their children and grandchildren.

George Gioffre remembers his brother Joe never letting a customer turn away

Joe was the oldest of 11 children, a sprawling, impressive Gioffre clan that just about anyone growing up in Wilmington would have overlapped with along the way. 

The proud Salesianum grad spent his final years at Forwood Manor, where he was a beloved presence. He is survived by his wife Margaret B. Gioffre and five children.

Joe’s formal obituary – a wonderful tribute – follows below.  RIP, Joe the Barber.

 

Joseph Francis Gioffre passed away on May 4, 2020, after 23 years of battling breast cancer. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Margaret B. Gioffre. He is also survived by five children, Frank Gioffre (Marydee), Nancy Gioffre, Joanne Morrison, Michael Gioffre (Carol), Greg Gioffre, as well as nineteen grandchildren and twenty-two great-grandchildren. His brothers and sisters, Lucille Eyre (Bill), Ralph Gioffre (Audrey), Marion Buddo (Jim), George Gioffre (Joanne), William Gioffre (Lynn), Elizabeth Beste (Bob), and Deborah Gioffre. He is predeceased by his parents, Frank and Freda Gioffre and siblings Irene Hannum (Al), Dr. Dominic Gioffre (Eileen) and Frank Gioffre (Barbara).

“Joe the Barber” was owner of Joe’s Barbershop on Concord Pike for over 54 years and was a founding member of the Delaware Association of Barbers. He was full of life and was always getting involved in things or helping other people. He loved Ocean City, NJ where he spent summers fishing and sitting on the beach.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a Grand Knight. Joe served as president of SEDAC. He sponsored local little league baseball and football teams and coached CYO basketball. He was an alumni and a huge fan of Salesianum School.

He loved people and would often say, ‘I have been blessed by people, my whole life.’ He loved and enjoyed his family especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, often reacting to their accomplishments with ‘God bless these young people, they have so much going for them. They are so good.’ He would often tell them to ‘keep it on the rails!’

He was empowering and saw possibilities. He found joy in what people were doing, and that joy was contagious. We will miss sitting at the dinner table and listening to him tell stories about the people he met and the interesting things they were involved in. He reminded us to embrace our lives and not take a moment for granted. He taught us that we have value and showed us how to see that value. That is powerful. What a gift he gave us.

The family would like to thank the many residents and staff of Forwood Manor, who gave Joe friendship and care over the last few years. You made his stay there very enjoyable. We would also like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Helen Graham Center, where he was known as ‘Joey No Socks”.

Due to COVID-19, services will be held privately at this time. A celebration of Joe’s life will be held with a Catholic Mass at a later date, notice of which will be posted in the News Journal and Corleto Latina Funeral Home web site.

In lieu of flowers please send a donation in memory of Joseph Gioffre ’49 to Salesianum School, 1801 N. Broom Street, Wilmington, DE 19802.


  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LinkedIn

About the Contributor

Michael Fleming

Michael Fleming

Wilmington resident Michael Fleming is a marketing and communications executive.

2 Comments

  • Here is my Joe story.
    In the late 50’s my father cut my hair (and my 2 older brothers) to save money.
    He bought one of those Norelco kits. It was fine for a few years.

    When I was in 3rd grade, the plastic attachment fell off the shaver while Dad was cutting the back of my head. Of course he couldn’t stop immediately, so I ended up with a 2 inch by 5 inch buzz cut/bald spot.
    It was quite embarrassing at Foulk Road Elementary the next day.

    My mother decided it wasn’t worth saving the money, so we would thereafter go to Joe’s. Joe lived just down the street so it was an easy choice.

    In 1964 I skipped a session or 2 at Joe’s so my hair would get longer, like the Beatles.
    The Springer Junior High School Principal was not amused. He sent me home with instructions not to return to school until my hair was cut.
    I told my mother (an early Quaker civil rights activist) that she should hire a lawyer to fight for my Constitutional right to have long hair.

    Needless to say, Joe cut my hair as soon as Dad got home from the Experimental Station and could take me to the barber shop.

    Although my parents did not have the wisdom to hire a lawyer, I did decide that day that I would become a lawyer. Of course at age 12 I had no idea what it meant to become a lawyer.

    But 56 years later I do know what it means to be a lawyer.
    Barry .