‘May he rest in perfect peace’: Hundreds attend funeral for Toronto barber Jimmy Wisdom

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Hundreds turn out to funeral for Toronto barber
WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds attend funeral service for Jimmy Wisdom, a beloved Toronto barber and musician. Morganne Campbell has more on his life and legacy. – Dec 14, 2019

He was jovial and kind, the type of person you’re drawn to. Ronald “Jimmy” Wisdom was a barber and musician but most importantly, he was a friend to all.

“In every community, there are giants and he’s one of them,” said Wisdom’s friend Valarie Steele.

Wisdom was a pillar in Toronto‘s Caribbean community, working for more than 50 years as a successful barber.

The 72-year-old had second and third generation customers in and out of his shop along the Eglinton West corridor.

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“He’s one of the fathers of Toronto, he really is,” explains Toronto city councillor Mike Colle.

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“(He) represents a whole wave of people who immigrated here and Jimmy helped them get through this transition … The barbershop is like little city hall. You go there and people talk about their problems, their issues, their celebrations — it’s a community hub.”

Wisdom racked up a list of accolades during his fruitful life, performing with Fats Domino and singing for the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

“Jimmy was a people person,” said Nadine Spencer, president of the Black Business and Professional Association.

“He wasn’t for himself. He really was about giving back to the community.”

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Wisdom passed away at Sunnybrook Hospital with his family by his side on Nov. 28.

A documentary produced for the 2015 Pan Am Games featured Wisdom as he shared his story about immigrating to Canada.

“I try to live a life of gratitude and giving whenever the opportunity presents itself,” Wisdom said in the first-person documentary.

“I try and make myself a productive individual in this land, in this country, this province, this city and I’m going to be here for a long time.”

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Wisdom was known for offering up some words of “wisdom” during a hot shave and cut.

Even in his death, he continues to influence and encourage others.

The 72-year-old leaves behind his wife of 39 years, Merva, as well as sons, daughters, his brother Clifford, nine grandchildren and one great grandson.

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