By AFRO Staff

Min. John Battle, a longtime master barber and the father of former AFRO reporter and Baltimore playwright Ursula Battle, died May 27. He was 75

The viewing for Minister Battle will be held on Thursday, June 7, 2018 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Howell Funeral Home, located at 4600 Liberty Heights Avenue in Gwynn Oak, MD. Homegoing Services will take place on Friday, June 8, 2018, 11 a.m. at New Rehoboth Baptist Church, 6318 Windsor Mill Road in Gwynn Oak, MD.

Min. John Battle, a master barber for 60 years and a fixture in the Sandtown Community of West Baltimore died May 27. (Courtesy Photo)

Battle, who was affectionately called “Mr. John”, and “Uncle John,” was born on December 29, 1942 in Blakely, Ga. to the late Deacon Johney B. Battle and the late Jimmie Lee Collins. He was one of six children: Rose B. Lindsay, Johney B. Battle and Roy Walker who preceded him in death, Josie Celistan, (New Orleans, La.) Essie Mae Brown (Baltimore, MD), and Dartha Mae Battle (Baltimore, MD).

In 1958, Battle graduated from Washington High School in Blakey, Ga., at the age of 16. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Baltimore, where he enrolled at Apex Beauty School and completed his studies in barbering. In 1965, he married Vashtied M. Stokes, daughter of the late New Hope Baptist Church Pastor and Founder Dr. William Nelson Stokes and First Lady Vashtied Stokes. Battle’s parents came to Baltimore for the wedding, and remained with their son. They made Baltimore their home, and other family members followed.

Battle soon began cutting hair with the late Pastor William Rivers (New Bethlehem Baptist Church) at Rivers Barber Shop on Riggs Avenue. In 1969, he branched out on his own, and opened Battle’s Barber Shop at 1001 N. Mount Street in Sandtown/Winchester (across from Phil’s Bar). Battle’s Barber Shop would become one of the city’s most successful, well-known, Black-owned businesses. It was also among the city’s most entertaining. Anyone who had a haircut and shave there knew an enjoyable time always waited at Battle’s Barber Shop. The trash-talking among barber and customers, and the photo collage of family and friends that hung on the wall, are fond memories that will never be forgotten.

The self-made entrepreneur who came to Baltimore with little more than the clothes on his back, owned a successful barbershop, a carry out, snowball stand, and houses.

The Master Barber’s career spanned 60 years.

He retired two years ago following eye surgery at the age of 73. He cut several generations of hair and was known all over Baltimore.

While he loved cutting hair, his greatest love was his personal relationship with God. While Minister Battle recently joined New Life Fellowship in Pikesville, on May 1, 2018, church has always been a part of his life. He loved reading and preaching the Word of God. In 1980, he preached his trial sermon at New Hope Baptist Church entitled, “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, All Other Ground is Sinking Sand.” He received his Certificate of Ordination from Pilgrim Christian Baptist Church on October 8, 1999.

Over the years, he served as a faithful shepherd in God’s Kingdom. He was an Associate Pastor at Christ Temple Church under the late Pastor Levester Waddy.

Minister Battle leaves to mourn his children: Ursula V. Battle, LaTonya (Toni) M. Battle-White, Tyiese (Moonie) M. Battle, Jonita G. Battle, Shantel Washington and John (Lil’ John) Battle, Jr.; 14 grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

The viewing for Min. Battle will be held on June 7, 4 p.m.- 8 p.m., at the Howell Funeral Home, located at 4600 Liberty Heights Avenue in Gwynn Oak, MD. Homegoing Services will take place on June 8, 11 a.m. at New Rehoboth Baptist Church, 6318 Windsor Mill Road in Gwynn Oak, MD.