Will Henry Reno, here depicted on the Inspiration mural, ran The Community Barbershop, a hub of activity and community in the Fillmore district. Image courtesy of Josef Norris.

William Henry Reno was a proud member of the Western Addition who valued his relationships within the community and connecting with its members. In the Fillmore community, Reno was a beloved businessman, and he strove to incorporate the sense of community he felt into his business. He strove to maintain a sense of community even as community in the Fillmore was being diminished by outside figures.

William was born on June 17, 1936, in Earlington, Kentucky. He moved to San Francisco with his parents, George and Minnie Reno, and his sister, Georgia Burke. It was in San Francisco that Reno established his business, The Community Barber Shop. The barbershop was a safe haven for community discussion and provided a safe space for the men of the community to connect. This legendary, neighborhood-minded, community-focused store affirmed the Fillmore district’s culture as an African American community. The barbershop also provided reliable jobs to its workers and acted as a host site for political fundraising, support, and conversation. The barbershop allowed for a diverse group of people to connect; whether they were musicians, artists, or business owners who needed a simple clean up, the barbershop was home.

Will Henry Reno was known as the proprietor of the Community Barber Shop in the Fillmore District.

However, the barbershop wasn’t William Henry Reno’s only contribution to the Western Addition. In his later years, he was president and co-founder of the San Francisco Ocean/Ingleside Lions Club, a worldwide charitable society devoted to social and international service, taking its membership primarily from business and professional groups. Reno also established the Southwestern Neighborhood Improvement Group, which valued beautification in respect to the people’s culture.

On May 7, 2007, at the age of seventy-one, William Henry Reno died. His legacy continues through the streets of the Fillmore and his family continues to embrace his work as a significant piece of history that changed the ways of the Fillmore district.

Like many others whose faces inhabit the wall, William Henry Reno is a constant reminder that regardless of where you begin your journey of life, anyone can be a leader and have a profound influence. It is those like William Henry Reno who get little recognition, yet had the greatest impact on creating such a connected community like the Fillmore. As an article written by Carol Ness for SF Gate best explains, it is about “instilling pride in the people of the neighborhood” and “it’s about the community.” Everyone has some connection to the mural and it reminds the people of the Western Addition of its founders and stands as a beacon of hope to continue the mission of preserving the community, a mission and vision that defined William Henry Reno.

Janelle Nunez, Delaney Miller, and Elijah Williams

Works Cited

“William Henry Reno.” The Messenger. Madisonville, KY. 15 May 2007.

Ness, Carol. “Faces of Black Success.” SFGate. 1999.

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