Forsman was barber and jokester
Willie Forsman didn't take chances with losing his money in a fire at his Yuba City home.
He kept cash and his checkbook in the freezer.
If asked, he said the money was there "in case the house burned down."
Granddaughter Rebecca Forsman, 15, of Yuba City, remembers the jokester also explaining, "It keeps the money fresher."
Willie, owner of Willie's Barbershop in the downtown Yuba City area for 47 years, liked to tell jokes, noted his daughter Shelley Cooper of Marysville. Sometimes the same ones, laughing at his own jokes.
"Sometimes he was the only one laughing," she added with her own laugh.
Wilfred "Willie" William Forsman, 72, died May 21 in Roseville where he had moved three years ago after many years in the Yuba-Sutter area.
Born in Empire near Modesto, he moved to the Mid-Valley as a youngster when his parents ran a hotel in Hammonton in Yuba County.
Although not much of a traveler, he was away from the area during the early 1950s while serving with the U.S. Army in Korea, a country he hoped to return to some day.
He just wanted to see how things had changed, Shelley said.
"He loved Korea," said oldest grandchild Christine Cooper, 29, of Yuba City. Willie loved to talk about the Asian country with Christine's friends in the military who had served there.
"It's like I wasn't even there" after the conversations started, she said. "He always wanted to go back."
Instead of long trips, Willie and his family - his wife, the late Cheltza A. Forsman, and children Shelley and the late Brian Forsman - used to go on drives for the day in the area.
After working as a barber at Beale Air Force Base in the early 1960s, Willie opened his own shop at the corner of Teegarden Avenue and Plumas Street. He later moved to Cooper Avenue.
"It was kind of cool when you were a kid," Shelley said. All the little kids getting their first haircut sat in the shop's baby chair, a seat made before 1938 that came with the shop.
He enjoyed his work, Shelley said, and especially liked the people - customers and visitors. Transients also knew he was a friendly man, allowing them a place to rest, giving them a free haircut and a hot cup of coffee.
"Everybody loved my papa," said granddaughter Gabrielle Forsman, 14, of Yuba City. "Everywhere we went, somebody knew him."
He was always home from work by about 5 p.m. to spend time with his family and indulge in his hobby - working on cars.
He bought cars, fixed them up and sold them. For a while he had Fords, then Oldsmobiles and most recently a Toyota. "Every two years we used to get a new car when I was a kid," Shelley said.
She learned how to work on cars by watching dad. "We worked on cars together," she said. "He'd be changing brakes and I'd be sitting there watching."
She doesn't work on cars much anymore, but she can still change the oil or a radiator.
Willie also collected and tinkered with watches as well as wore a variety of them on his wrist.
"He changed them all the time," Shelley said, buying them often at swap meets. His latest craze was going to Mexico and buying fake Rolex watches.
"He was always friendly," his daughter said. "I've always been fairly tolerant of people ... I'm sure (he's) where I got it from."
Appeal-Democrat reporter Leticia Gutierrez can be reached at 749-4722. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.