The Ballad of Jesse Lovelace: Take the Long Road to Wealth

The Ballad of Jesse Lovelace: Take the Long Road to Wealth

Dear reader: You didn’t know this man, but I sure did. At 89 years old Jesse Lovelace embodied his surname in ways many people will only ever write or read about.

He was a lovely, and kind, and caring man. He was also a legend in our local construction and excavating community. He owned and operated an honest business. He never looked to get rich quick, he was wealthy in life and took the long road to get there.

We first met Jesse while building our first home in South Lyon, MI. The market was tight in 2008 which meant we had options. Everyone we asked about who we should hire to excavate a 9’ full basement and septic field said ‘Lovelace.’ He’s the only one to hire.

Jesse asked if we would like him to haul the excess sand and we agreed. He not only paid us for every load of sand, but came back the following year with a few loads for free for our patio after reconciling his books over the winter and feeling as though he shorted us a few yards!

We kept in touch over the years, made easier by Jesse living in the same (small at the time) town. We built again 2017, this time a walk-out colonial in Brighton and Jesse, true to form, gave us the best rates and made time for us, even in a builder’s market where prices were doubling and tripling.

There Jesse was again in 2019 up on his bulldozer at 85years old, working us younger folk under the table as he graded our friend’s new construction build while we toiled away building his pole barn. We took an hour lunch, he sat with us for 20 minutes eating his bologna on wheat before returning to work. We wrapped the day and he continued to work, finishing the job and loading the equipment before leaving. He never wasted a trip.

- Today I slept in until the 6am hour, Jesse would have been on the road by then.
- Today I’ll work a 14hr day, Jesse would have worked 15hrs and then dreamt about the next day’s progress.
- Today I order takeout for lunch, Jesse always packed his own.
- Today I’ll purchase new work boots as these ones are worn out, Jesse would have gotten more miles out of his.

With water stained cheekbones I write this. It’s helpful. In a way it reminds me of what I hope to accomplish over the next 40+ years as we too shuffle across this mortal coil.

I saw Jesse in Lowe’s a couple months ago. He looked good. Jesse died with his boots on, no question about it. We could be so lucky.



Mike Hiller


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