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David G. Kushner

June 1, 1944

April 20, 2021

Age 76, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Beloved husband of 53 years to Jacqueline "Jacki" (Chiodo) Kushner. Loving father of Craig (the late Patti) and Aaron (Lori) Kushner; and Pap to his five favorite grandchildren, Ashley, Emiley, Craig, Jr., Domenick, and Vanessa. Brother of Donald "Bo" (Marianne) Kushner; and brother-in-law of Eugene (the late Roseann) Chiodo. Also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, and many dear friends.

Dave grew up in Carnegie, graduated from Chartiers Valley High School in 1962. After high school, Dave ran the world famous Dave's Barber Shop, located on the North Side, for 51 years. Dave improved the appearance of Pittsburgh's finest gentlemen. From his first location on Federal St., to the second floor of the Martin building, to the corner of James and Forland, David doled out the best haircut in town. His loyal customers traveled to all locations and funded his son's swim club, travel soccer, college, and multiple vehicles. Dave closed the shop in 2016 and Pittsburgh's finest gentlemen aren't the finest anymore.

First and foremost, Dave enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. From attending sporting events to supporting chorus and dance recitals. No distance was too far. He liked playing cards, was artistic, loved cooking and celebrating holiday traditions with his family. Dave had a green thumb and was the family's best gardener. He loved traveling with Jacki and they celebrated their 50th anniversary in Jamaica with the kids.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the SZAFRANSKI-EBERLEIN FUNERAL HOME, INC., where family and friends will be received on Friday, April 23, 2021 from 2-8 p.m. at 101 Third St. Carnegie. A Knights of Columbus Service will be held at 7p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held in St. Raphael the Archangel Parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 1 p.m.

In order to be compliant with our state guidelines, masks must be worn and social distancing maintained for Visitation, Mass and Burial.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Dave's name to the Leukemia Program Fund, c/o University of Pittsburgh, PO Box 640093, Pittsburgh, PA 15264.

www.szafranski-eberleinfuneralhome.com (412)276-1107

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David Kushner: North Side barber served generations of customers
June 1, 1944 -- April 20, 2021

David “Dave the Barber” Kushner never forgot a face.

Through countless first haircuts, straight-razor shaves and the lively debate that served as a daily staple at “Dave’s Barber Shop” on the North Side, Mr. Kushner inspired loyalty through generations of customers.

“He moved three times in 51 years on the North Side and his customers always followed him,” said his son Craig Kushner, of Cecil. “That tells you something. He would cut hair for three generations of a family sometimes. His customers were really loyal.”

Mr. Kushner, of Scott, died Tuesday of complications from leukemia. He was 76.

Growing up, Mr. Kushner aspired to become a barber, following in the footsteps of a friend’s father, who owned a barbershop on the North Side.

He began pursuing his goal even before he graduated from Chartiers Valley High School in 1962, his son said.

“He started barber school while he was still in high school,” he said. “He worked at the barbershop owned by his friend’s father on Federal Street, then he bought it.”

In high school, Mr. Kushner also fell in love with a classmate, Jacqueline "Jacki" Chiodo. Their November 1968 wedding entitled her and her family to not just a lifetime’s worth of love and devotion -- but free haircuts to boot.

“He was the best. He cut everyone’s hair, including mine and my mother’s,” Jacki Kushner said.

The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018 with a family trip to Jamaica, and took nine other cruises throughout the Caribbean over the years.

Mr. Kushner’s first shop, located on Federal Street near what is now known as the Roberto Clemente Bridge, drew most of its clientele from Downtown, said another son, Aaron Kushner, of South Fayette.

“A lot of the Downtown businessmen used him for years,” he said. “He used to say they’d walk across the bridge for a quick haircut during the workday.”

As the area around what now is PNC Park was being developed, Mr. Kushner relocated to the Martin Building, at the corner of Federal and General Robinson streets, then by 1999, to Deutschtown, at the corner of James and Foreland streets.

No matter where he hung his clippers, the space in Dave’s Barber Shop was sacrosanct -- the snipping of scissors played in tune with friendly banter and debate.

No subject was off limits, but reservations were taboo to their father, who worked alone, Mr. Kushner’s sons said.

“It was walk-ins only and he did things pretty straightforward. He didn’t do anything too crazy,” said his son Aaron. “If we wanted haircuts, we had to drive to the North Side, and you just never knew what you were going to walk into. I’d call him and come in if he wasn’t too busy. But, when I would get there 10 minutes later, there’d be four old-timers waiting, deep in conversation about religion and politics. I’d turn around and leave and try again the next day.”

“He was very warm and friendly and he was a good listener,” said his son Craig. “And once he met you, he never forgot you. He remembered everybody and even after he retired, he’d run into people all the time who got their first haircut at the shop.”

Mr. Kushner also became renowned for his incredible green thumb when he nurtured an orange tree indoors. It grew to the ceiling and produced fruit year round.

The tree, which lived in the front window of his barbershop, started off as a 1-foot souvenir that a customer brought him from California in 1968. By 1974, it was more than 7 feet tall, with an equally impressive spread. It continued to grow over the years and was featured in local news stories.

“If you can keep an orange tree growing in Pittsburgh, you’ve got something special,” recalled his son Aaron, who said his father tenderly tended his colorful backyard garden at home. “He would change it up all the time. He was a big fan of peonies and geraniums.”

Also an accomplished chef, Mr. Kushner made an Easter feast for 11 family members earlier this month, and he took pride in making everything from tomato sauce to stuffed cabbage from scratch.

“He made everything from hand -- he never bought anything,” his son Aaron said. “He taught my brother and me how to can tomatoes.”

Whether it was for his sons or his five grandchildren, Mr. Kushner was a big believer in spending quality and quantity time with loved ones.

“He was always there. He never had an excuse not to be someplace,” his son Craig said. “No matter what the event was, you could bet my dad and my mom were going to be in the stands. Family was No. 1 in his book -- family always came first.”

Mr. Kushner patronized the neighborhood shops of his buddies for his own haircuts, but unlike most barbers, he kept his shop open six days a week -- including Mondays.

He began cutting back hours before his retirement five years ago, but loyal clients like Mark Fatla hated to see him go.

“He had to be sick of customers asking him to change his mind,” said Mr. Fatla, executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference. “Nearly everybody who walked in there tried to talk him out of it. People don’t like to lose their personal landmarks.”

“When he retired, it was emotional,” recalled his son Craig. “I remember him telling me stories about customers coming in and they were getting really emotional.”

Mr. Fatla bought the antique figural newel post lamp that graced Dave’s Barber Shop and keeps it as a reminder of his friend and a bygone era.

“Sometimes people think of landmarks as just buildings – the old church, the fanciest house, the monument in the park,” he said. “But these neighborhood-serving businesses are important landmarks in the life of a community. They become part of the rhythm of our lives - reliable, trusted and even loved. ‘Dave the Barber’ was a landmark, and we mourn the loss of a part of our North Side community.”

Mr. Kushner is also survived by a brother, Bo Kushner, of Scott.

His funeral was Saturday.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Leukemia Program Fund, c/o University of Pittsburgh, PO Box 640093, Pittsburgh, PA 15264.

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com.

First Published April 25, 2021, 12:24am

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