When Monongahela Mayor Bob Kepics decided to stop shaving six months ago, he had a good reason for putting his razor down and going for the scruffy look.
“I wasn’t trying to look hip or anything,” said Kepics. “I wanted to raise money for the Pittsburgh office of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Foundation. Alzehimer’s disease has taken a toll on several people I have known, and I wanted to raise money and more awareness for this condition.”
After growing a beard that measured about seven inches and raising more than $1,000 for charity, Kepics finally had his Van Dyke beard shaved off during a recent ceremony at LD’s House of Shaves in Monongahela.
Laura D’Emidio, owner of the barber shop, already had some prior experience shaving off beards for celebrity clients.
“I had the pleasure of shaving former Steelers lineman Brett Kiesel’s beard to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh,” said D’Emidio. “It’s also an honor to be shaving Mayor Kepics’ beard for a good cause.”
Kepics said he wants more people to become aware about Alzheimer’s disease— an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. More than 5.5 million Americans, most of them 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.
“I have a friend who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and both of my parents had this disease,” he said. “It’s a terrible condition and more needs to be done to help find a cure.”
In just a matter of seconds, D’Emidio sheared off Kepics’ beard, but at the mayor’s request, she kept his mustache.
“It’s more of my regular look,” said Kepics, who is retiring this year after serving as mayor of Monongahela for the past 12 years. “Besides that, the beard was starting to make me feel hot during the summer weather.”
Kepics said he timed the beard-shaving ceremony to take place shortly after Monongahela’s 250th anniversary celebration.
“Not many people may remember this, but during Monongahela’s centennial celebration in 1969, men were rounded up and sent to a kangaroo court if they weren’t sporting a beard for the festivities,” said Kepics, with a smile. “The same thing happened for women if they weren’t wearing a bonnet. A few people had a short stay in a temporary jail. It was all in good fun, however. As mayor, I didn’t want to take a chance on breaking the rule, so that was another incentive for keeping the beard for a few days longer. Hopefully, a lot of good will come out of this experience.”