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West Jordan’s ‘traveling barber’ sets down his shears after 52 years

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Posted at 10:01 PM, Mar 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-31 00:01:00-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah – A Utah barber is retiring after a long career, but before he put down his scissors he set out to enjoy his golden years, despite a frightening diagnosis.

Lee Huntsman owns Lee’s Barbershop, and he’s been cutting hair for 52 years, ever since he was drafted into the military.

“When I first went in, in basic, they don't have any barbers they just do their own,” he said. “I happened to be the better one. And I started cutting in basic.”

Huntsman stuck with the trade after his service, and he went to school to get his license as a barber.

“It’s never been a job,” he said. “It’s always just been an enjoyment just to come and visit with my friends all day.”

It was 18 years ago that Lee was diagnosed with Carcinoid Syndrome, a condition related to carcinoid tumors, and he decided to see the world while he was able. The community now calls him the traveling barber.

“I had got cancer, and that's another reason I decided to travel while I could,” he said. “The doctor said I had a couple of years, probably, and he said, 'You gotta do something while you still want to.'”

Lee and his wife Mava have traveled to more than 120 countries. During that time, Lee continued to work despite his illness, up until recently.

"Two months ago I was cutting hair, and I decided that after I finished that day I would retire,” he said.

Lee said his daughters and grandchildren have stepped up to keep the barber shop running, and he said they are doing an excellent job.

“They told me I can still come back if I wanted,” Lee said smiling.

Lee’s family said they hope he can fight on until June 19, which is his wedding anniversary.