Ron Hensel, aka Ron the Barber, visits with Roberta See of Grinnell during the second annual Montezuma American Legion Post 169 Car Show on the Montezuma Square on Saturday, Sept. 30. Ron, the local Legion Commander, organizes the show, which drew nearly 180 cars this year.
If you have ever spent any time in Montezuma, you may know or have heard of Ron Hensel, aka Ron the Barber.
I’ve been a friend of Ron’s since he opened his barbershop on the west side of the Montezuma Square in September 2008. He’s trimmed my head ever since we first met.
I don’t know if Ron has cut more hair off or if I’ve lost more hair in the last 15 years. I don’t quite have the head of hair I once did back in the day.
When able, I enjoy stopping by the barbershop to visit and catch up on the latest town gossip and news. There is always an assortment of folks from farmers to local good old boys who come for a trim or stop by to talk politics or town happenings.
You never know who might be in the barber chair or waiting their turn.
Ron grew up in Milo and is a graduate of Southeast Warren High School.
After attending barber school in the early 1960s, Ron cut hair in a barbershop on the Indianola square.
He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. And after that, he operated a barbershop on Army Post Road for a number of years.
He and his wife, Bea, bought a piece of land at Lake Ponderosa in 1997. Two years later, they sold that lot and purchased another lot on the west lake, where they built a comfortable home. They sold their lake home and moved to Montezuma nine years ago.
It didn’t take Ron long after moving to the Montezuma area to become involved in the business community. He has been a long-time member of the Montezuma Community Boosters and remains active in the Montezuma Lions Club.
He was named the Montezuma American Legion Blakely-Stevens Post 169 Commander in 2010.
One of his first moves as commander of the Legion was to give the Legion Hall, located on the backside of the Memorial Hall, a good scrubbing and paint job.
He’s worked tirelessly to promote the Legion and was involved earlier this year in starting a Sons of American Legion Chapter in Montezuma.
The Sons of American Legion is for sons and grandsons who had a father or grandfather in the military. The Montezuma chapter has grown to 43 members. The sons next undertaking is the Wreaths Across America campaign coming this Christmas. The WAA allows folks who have veterans buried in one of Montezuma’s cemeteries to purchase a wreath and have it placed on their graves by a veteran. Area folks can also purchase wreathes for loved ones buried in other cemeteries and place them there themselves.
Under Ron’s leadership, the Legion has grown to nearly 100 members, the largest in Poweshiek County. In addition, Ron oversees the placement of American Flags around the town square during holidays and other events and prior to Memorial Day activities, at the local cemeteries. He also leads the town Memorial Day service.
Ron has always been a big supporter of Montezuma athletic and school events. When the Montezuma Fire and Ambulance Department gives Montezuma students firetruck rides as part of fire week activities, Ron always has a big bowl candy at the barbershop. When he hears the siren, he grabs the bowl and heads outside where he tosses handfuls of candy to the students as they roll past the barbershop.
And in 2013, Ron was instrumental in helping bring the Freedom Rock to Montezuma. When he learned about the 99-county Freedom Rock tour that year, Ron approached the City of Montezuma to get the ball rolling on the project. With the help of Legion members, a rock was found north of Montezuma and put on a trailer with the use of a bulldozer and brought to town. It was painted by Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II in August 2016 and is located on the southeast corner of the Montezuma Square.
And last fall, Ron and his wife, Bea, where recognized with the Greater Poweshiek County Foundation “Spirit of Giving” honor. The honor is handed out each fall to community members and leaders from across the county.
In mid-May, when my van caught fire and burned, Ron started a fund drive to help Debbie and me get another vehicle in June. What a blessing!
Ron’s latest undertaking is a new Legion Hall.
In June 2021, Scott, Kevin and Kerri Carl, the grandchildren of the late Cloyd M. and Francis Carl, donated two acres of the original Henry F. Carl farm to the Legion for construction of a new legion hall.
Since that time, Ron and members of the local American Legion have been busy selling watermelon at community events and raising funds to build a new legion hall.
In 2022, Ron organized the first Montezuma American Legion Car Show to raise funds for the building. The event drew 115 cars and trucks and a large crowd.
The show was such a success, that Ron and the Legion decided to bring it back in 2023. Ron spent part of the summer attending various car shows around the area handing out flyers advertising the Montezuma show.
It paid off as this year’s show, held on Saturday, Sept. 30, drew 180 vehicles from classics to newer cars and trucks, race cars, customized golf carts and even a 1969 Airstream camper and 1969 customized pickup truck.
It was a great show and testament to the hard work of Ron and the Legion members do in the Montezuma community.
Next time you’re in Montezuma, stop at the barbershop and shake Ron’s hand and say thanks. If you would like to make a donation to the future legion hall, I’m sure he would be happy to accept the donation.
Ron is definitely a leader who is making things better than he found them.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.