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Friday, September 19, 2014

Generations of students loved MC barber

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Artie Urrutia gives Michael Whelan a haircut at Manhattan College in May 2012. File photo.

Inside Artie’s Barber Shop on Manhattan College’s campus, two chairs, one with a washbasin for shampoos, one for haircuts, are unoccupied. Shampoo and conditioner bottles perch on shelves and countertops and sports team photos and devotion cards are tacked to the mirrors lining the walls, along with a price list of haircuts.

But the shop, occupying a room in Jasper Dormitory, is empty. On Aug. 27, the college’s beloved barber Arthur “Artie” Urrutia passed away, after a battle with heart failure and pneumonia. He was 82. 

“He was a welcoming presence to everybody,” said Brother Robert Berger, an associate professor or religious studies at the college and close friend of Mr. Urrutia who knew him since he began cutting hair at the college in 1962. “His office was always busy.”

Mr. Urrutia provided haircuts for thousands of Manhattan College students and faculty members over the years. He began cutting hair when he was 12 inside his parent’s New Jersey home, which included a barbershop. 

After setting up his own shop in town, one of his customers, Manhattan College’s Brother Edward O’Neill, suggested Mr. Urrutia relocated right on campus. 

The rest, Brother Berger recalls, was history. Mr. Urrutia came to Thomas Hall before moving to the Jasper dormitory, eventually becoming a fixture of the college. He was known for his sharp wit, kindly demeanor and incredible memory. 

He and his wife, who worked as a secretary on the campus, often ate lunch together in the college’s cafeteria. They lived a few blocks away, where they raised their three children.

Mentor remembered

Students went to Mr. Urrutia for haircuts, but for many of them, he was more of a friend and mentor than a barber.

“He was just overall a nice guy. It was just one of those pieces of Manhattan College that made it more of a community,” recalled senior Mike Russell, who described having his “raggedy” hair and beard “cleaned up” by Mr. Urrutia every few weeks — often before important events like career fairs. 

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