Cervi retires after 70 years as a barber

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Mario Cervi is the quintessential hard-working Italian immigrant who carved out a life for himself in the Chicago area. He was born in Alvito, a small town outside of Rome. When he was just 5 years old, he lost his father, who went missing in action during World War II. He began working as a barber at age 15, making him the youngest barber in the region.

Cervi immigrated to America with his mother in 1955, landing on a Saturday and beginning work at a barbershop in the Galewood neighborhood on the following Monday. Cervi’s maternal family sponsored them, and he was eager to make his mark. He worked at his first job for 12 years, before opening two shops of his own. The last and longest-running shop, Mario’s California Concepts, was on Diversey.

Over the decades, Cervi was privileged to style stars like Robert Conrad and Larry Manetti as well as sports greats like Chicago Bear Mike Pyle, Chicago Cub Ron Santo and Chicago Blackhawk Keith Magnuson. His 15-chair shop was a neighborhood institution, but Cervi didn’t stop there. As California Concepts’ regional manager, he traveled to 42 states promoting the company’s haircare products. “I had a tremendous clientele. The day I retired was a very sad day,” he confides.

Retired at age 86, Cervi and his wife, Berna, live in Hoffman Estates and have two children, Donna Cervi and Denise DiPaolo.


About Nina Albano Vidmer

Nina Albano Vidmer is a featured columnist for Fra Noi and principal of NAV & Associates since 1992, a Chicago-based association management company serving local and national non-profit organizations. Clients include the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, the Justinian Society of Lawyers, the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association, the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association, the Illinois Chapter of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Midwest Business Brokers and Intermediaries, DuPage County Estate Planning Council, Greater Northshore Estate and Financial Planning Council and the Veterans’ Legal Aid Society. She is a former correspondent reporter for The Suburban Life Newspaper.

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