OBITUARY: Wayne John Reif

Wayne John Reif, beloved community figure, family-man and friend, passed away on the winter solstice, Dec. 21, 2022, in Newton, Kansas, at the age of 83.

Born in Hesston, Kansas, on Jan. 6, 1939, to Theodore and Anna (Lee) Reif, Wayne is survived by three children from his first marriage, Tracey Carrier, Shelly Reif and Christina Goold; and grandchildren, Sarah and Cameron Carrier; his second wife, Peggy Reif; stepchildren, Kari and Doug Sebastian; step-grandchildren, Kami Burgess and Kaci Smalley; and seven beloved step-great-granddaughters. Wayne also embraced lifelong family friend Harlan Schmidt as a son.

Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, Ted and Anna Reif; siblings, Gail Reif and Donna Coughlin; and first wife, Sharon Reif.

Wayne graduated Newton High and soon after the Kansas School of Barbering. He opened Hesston and Moundridge Barber Shops with the intention of funding art school in Kansas City, for which he’d received a scholarship. In the mid-70s, he expanded the Hesston shop to a co-ed salon and renamed it “Hair Cutting Company.” In 1981, he opened “Hair Cutting Company” on Main Street, Newton, where he served a large and loyal community for decades. His salon career spanned over 60 years, during which he also served as inspector for the Kansas Board of Barbering. Many of his adult clients tell the story of getting their first haircut from Wayne. In 2009, he sold the shop to his top stylist, Shannon Reinert, but kept working another 10 years. He reluctantly retired at 80.

Born on a farm in Hesston, he was named by his brother Gail, an avid fan of John Wayne. In his youth, he worked on his parents’ farm and traveled by horse to attend a one room rural schoolhouse. In later years, he was locally known for his mischievous antics and fun-loving pranks. He went on to travel the globe, exploring dozens of countries over many decades. He embraced people of every age, ethnicity, and social status, both globally and locally, declaring that “Wherever you go, people are people and inherently good.”

Wayne had a lifelong fascination with airplanes and in recent years spent many hours at the Fenton Airport watching biplanes come and go. He knew the model and year of origin of every one. In 2017, he experienced what he called “the best day of my life” when he was gifted a ride in a Stearman for Father’s Day. Performing stalls, loops and barrel rolls, he said after that he was happy he didn’t fall out and would go again any time.

Wayne served in the National Guard and was a member of the Elks Club. During his time on the Hesston Development Committee, he founded the annual Oktoberfest. He loved to dance and stayed current with new styles over the decades. He received a variety of awards and honors for his work in the field of cosmetology. He specialized in color and was known for his mastery of youthful styles. Often using family members as test subjects resulted in some hair-raising results.

One of his favorite phrases, “daylight’s burning,” set the stage for his work hard/play hard lifestyle. For most of his 60-plus year career, he worked 12-hour days, six days a week, but this never stopped him from ambitious, if not sleepless, weekend adventures.

For many years, Wayne and his brother Gail traveled annually to Oklahoma for the Corntassel family reunion of the Cherokee tribe. Though he was associated by his brother’s marriage, he was warmly embraced as family. He loved attending pow-wows and learning the language from his Cherokee cousin Denise.

Though memory loss played a role in his final years, rest assured that he remembered every name and face of every person he had ever known and very often their entire family history, as well. People were what he cherished most in this life.

Wayne can be remembered anytime, anywhere by playing his favorite song, “Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. He sang this song, hand on heart, in his final days.

A Celebration Of Life will be held on Sunday, May 21, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Grace Hill Winery, Whitewater. Artwork from Wayne’s retirement years will be displayed. All friends and family are welcome.

Please RSVP to

An online memorial page can be found at

Here you can see updates on the event, photos and more stories. Please post your own favorite memories and photos of Wayne.

Obituary and on-line condolences may also be found and left at

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