Shortly after Wilbert Black died of cancer in 2005, U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones described what he meant to her and many other customers of Black’s Pride:
Mr. Black not only was my hairstylist, he was my friend. He was never too busy for me. He always made himself available, offering constructive criticism and encouraging words. He was my political ally…He loved the city of East Cleveland. From Euclid Avenue to Hayden Road to Noble Road, he was involved in every political campaign for candidates and issues. He worked the polls and did whatever it took to ensure that the people of East Cleveland exercised their right to vote.
He was known as “The Curl King,” in all of his regalia—tuxedos, three-piece suits, Gator shoes and his hair always in place. He kept an immaculate salon with tasty treats like coffee, cookies, wine, cheese and champagne.
He and Odessa were a model of success in marriage, friendship, business and parenting. Nothing was more fun than to hear them go back and forth with each other. They were a couple who loved each other, their profession and their children and grandchildren. His sons Darryl and Petey could not have had a better role model. He set the example for his sons and shared his knowledge with them.
When Mr. Black found out he had cancer he got ready to fight. He handled his illness with such dignity. He kept going and going. I recall I tried to cancel my last appointment but he would not let me. He insisted that he would do my hair. He took his time and I refused to rush him. I wanted more than anything to just say “Rest, Mr. Black,” but he would not hear it. He was going to finish no matter what. Mr. Black, I am sure you are in heaven with the rest of your family, probably doing hair in your salon. I can imagine the immaculate decorations, the flowers, the seating, the stations, the cheerful greeting, and the broad smile. Rest well, my friend, my ally, my hero extraordinaire.