The Town of New Windsor and surrounding community are mourning the loss of a beloved local icon. Community resident and Guinness Book of World Records “Oldest Working Barber in the World” Anthony Mancinelli, a resident of the Newburgh-New Windsor area, died Thursday, September 19, 2019, at the age of 108. Mancinelli received the prestigious honor in 1996.
Born on March 2, 1911, as the son of John and Savino Madrisi Mancinelli, Mancinelli came to America in 1919 from Montemilone, Basilicata, Italy. He came from humble beginnings and began barbering in 1924 as a means to help support his family. His career as a barber began at about 12 years old, and he later opened his own shop at the age of 19. Mancinelli later served in World War II and was honorably discharged in 1945.
He was married to his wife Carmella, who predeceased him, for 69 years and together they had two sons, Robert and Anthony Jr. Anthony Jr. passed away in April of 1983. Today, he is survived by his son, Robert, four grandchildren, several great-grandchildren and great- great-grandchildren, six nieces and four nephews.
Over the years, Mancinelli made his mark on the lives of countless generations of Hudson Valley residents both young and old from first haircuts to weddings, and he also made an impact on his customers outside of the barber’s chair. Patrons and friends credit Mancinelli’s work ethic of five days a week for 8 hours a day as a reason for his young at heart spirit and longevity. He was barbering up until earlier this summer when he stepped back due to health reasons.
Longtime family friend and former coworker, Antonio Mugnano, first met Mancinelli when he was a young boy working alongside his father in the Hair Room Barbershop in Vails Gate. “He did it with such passion,” Mugnano shared, as he grew up watching Mancinelli and listened to his stories about what barbering was like back in the earlier years. Over the years, the two kept in touch with Mancinelli even attending his wedding. “I had the privilege of working with not only the oldest barber in the world, but a true friend- one who would bend over backwards to help you in any way possible whether it was helping you or giving you advice. He would always listen. He was truly a friend and will be greatly missed,” said Mugnano.
In addition to working as a barber from a young age, Mancinelli was active in the local community receiving awards and honors from government and elected officials over the years. He was honored by Orange County on numerous occasions, including receiving a proclamation by the Orange County Legislature in March of 2016, acting as the Grand Marshall of the New Windsor Memorial Day parade over a dozen times, and having March 2nd named Anthony Mancinelli Day in Orange County.
“Mr. Mancinelli became a barber at the young age of 12-years-old, owned his own barber shop at 19, and continued to work full-time until earlier this year. His story was both inspirational and amazing. I was honored to have my hair cut by Mr. Mancinelli a few years ago and to have the opportunity to spend some time with him. He was a kind, sweet, hard-working man. My condolences go out to his family,” shared Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus.
Earlier this year, Mancinelli was able to take part in a Hudson Valley Honor Flight with other local veterans. Christine Little, who served as a Safety Captain for HVHF during the trip, shared her memories of the day after traveling with Mancinelli.
“I was blessed to be with Mr. Mancinelli on his Honor Flight trip. He smiled the entire day and was such a lovely man. He snipped a lock of my hair off so I can now say the oldest barber in the world cut my hair. He was a wonderful man and a great American,” said Little.
Tracey Lanthier, Commander of the American Legion Post 1796 in New Windsor, spoke about Mancinelli’s longevity in the American Legion and the void this leaves in the community. As a life member and the oldest member at 108, Mancinelli was older than the American Legion which is celebrating 100 years this year.
“Anthony Mancinelli was a member of the American Legion for 72 years. He will be missed by all members of the American Legion and I am sure the New Windsor community will miss him also,” said Commander Lanthier.
Mancinelli was a legend in the eyes of the community and world, but his greatest accomplishment may have been that he was a beloved family man who leaves behind an inspirational legacy. In his obituary, Mancinelli graciously left finals words for his legions of fans, wishing a long, healthy, and happy life for all of the family and friends that he leaves behind.