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Officer & Gentleman

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

The shop that help with the legacy of the late Clarence Joseph “Frenchy” Levesque.

By the dozens, several filed through the doors of the Munford Funeral Home Millington Chapel to pay respects to the late Clarence Joseph Levesque.

Some knew the man that lived for 76 years as a Marine, fireman, line dancer, family man and barber. But all grew to know him as a friend and “Frenchy.”

For more than 50 years Levesque was a fixture on Navy Road just over the railroad tracks in the little white building at Frenchy’s Barber Shop. He opened the business in the late 1950s and worked there even this year as he battled his illness.

Levesque passed away last Tuesday, Oct. 23. His family was quickly comforted by friends and the community through cards, social media and in person.

“It’s more than overwhelming,” Levesque youngest child John said. “It gives me pride to know my Dad has done so much in the community to be thought of so fondly. I felt like he was a great communitcator and listener, that people would come to him and talk about their lives.

“He shared,” he added. “My Dad was one of the kind of guys he would do almost anything for anybody. He met them through his business but they became friends after that.”

One friend paying tribute to Frenchy was Paul McCullough. The pair were neighbors for several years in Millington with McCullough coaching John’s youth baseball team. Levesque became McCullough’s barber more than 40 years ago.

“He was such a gentlemen,” McCullough said. “And he was a Marine. He loved the fact that he was a Marine. He has a picture of them raising the Flag over Iwo Jima in the Barber Shop. He liked to talk, and he was an American. He was always dedicated to what was right.”

An American Flag flew over Frenchy’s Barber Shop greeting loyal customers. Levesque started cutting hair in 1954 before opening his business in Millington.

The 5122 location is still in operation ran by Levesque’s daughter . Frenchy established a reputation for good work and loving Flag City. The Madawaska, Maine native became an iconic figure in Millington.

He raised his family of Yvonne, Lisa, Alan and John with his wife Mary by his side in Millington and later moved to Drummonds.

Levesque’s children always heard good things about their father from South Tipton to Memphis.

“I’ve been hearing that his whole life,” John said. “He’s earned much respect in the city and the area. They loved him not only because he was a good businessman, but he was a good friend to most people.

“I grew up there for the most,” he continued. “The barber shop, its a place where men could actually talk and share. He created friends through the military and they come back to get their hair cuts.”

Not only did his military ties bring him friends and customers, but Frenchy was a member of St. William’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus.

He was known for country line dancing being one of the last on the floor. Frenchy was a big game hunter, volunteer fireman for several years and worked on the farm.

But most in the community knew him as the longtime owner of the barber shop on Navy Road. But the ones who grew up in his house knew him simply as Dad.

“My Dad was a very strong personality,” John said. “He told me he loved me everyday. I think that’s amazing. A lot of kids don’t hear that from their family as they grow up. I truly felt loved in my family. My Dad was the leader of that. He was a Christian man. He led the family like a man should lead his family.

“We were just as proud of him as he was of his family,” he concluded. “He was always encouraging. One thing about my Dad, he had an amazing work ethic. He had a strong heart and strong will.”


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November 2012
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