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Dayton Lovelady, owner of Lovelady Construction, dies at age 80

Growing up in Plantersville, Aubrey Dayton Lovelady always wanted to work on the railroad. His fascination with trains turned into a job as a teenager and after graduating, at age 16, valedictorian of his class at Dallas County High School, he longed to make his career with the railroad.

Instead, he found his calling in the construction business, where he became known for his skill, craftsmanship and smarts. Even up until his death May 29 at the age of 80, Lovelady remained active at Lovelady Construction, the business he founded in 1952.

“His hobbies where building, building and building,” said his son, Randy Lovelady, who worked with his father in the family business. “He said, ‘Even though I’m retired, I’ll never retire.’”

Dayton Lovelady’s projects can be found throughout Dallas and Chilton Counties. His company did the majority of the construction projects at Craig Air Force Base prior to its closing in 1977, and also was responsible for the renovation and restoration of the St. James Hotel. The hallmark of his construction career, though, is the Selma City Complex, which includes Selma City Hall, Selma-Dallas County Public Library and the Carl C. Morgan Jr. Convention Center.

“That whole complex was built for $2 million,” Randy Lovelady said. “We were always proud of that and think of it as the signature project of our construction company.”

Much of Lovelady Construction’s business also came in the construction or remodeling of schools in Dallas and Chilton counties.

“Almost every school you go in around here he’s either built it or remodeled it,” said granddaughter Fran Bruner, who has worked with the company for 10 years.

“His first original project was Meadowview Public,” added Randy Lovelady. “It was one of the largest projects he had ever done at that point.”

Dayton Lovelady’s friends that served with him on the board of People’s Bank & Trust Company remember him as a focused, smart, professional businessman who provided wisdom and leadership and always did what he said he was going to do.

“He grew up out of a tool box and became a large contractor,” said former People’s Chairman of the Board Dick Morthland. “He used to joke that he was the biggest contractor in Plantersville. He had a sense of what the common people were thinking about and he always knew what was best for the bank.”

Through his service on the bank’s board, Dayton Lovelady and Morthland became fast friends.

“He was just a good man,” Morthland continued. “I can’t think of anybody that’s ever said anything bad about Dayton, even people who were in competition with him. If there was ever anybody I could depend on, it was Dayton Lovelady.”

Ted Henry admired Lovelady’s business acumen as well, but also appreciated the way he treated other people.

“He was the type of guy that just had a big heart,” Henry said. “He did a lot of things in the community folks never knew about. He was a nice guy and will be missed.”

“He helped an awful lot of people get started in Selma,” added David Pierce. “I don’t know how many people he worked with that went on to start their own business. He was an outstanding citizen, had a good time, worked hard and had a world of friends.”

Although his career and his business were his passion, his family always came first.

“He worked hard in his business to give us a good living,” Randy Lovelady said. “But he always had time for us.”

“He always said I was his heart, but he was my heart,” Fran Bruner said. “We were like best friends.”

Dayton and his wife, Dot, celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary in April. A few years ago, Dayton began writing about his life in a journal. He wrote, “Had it not been for (Dot) I could not have accomplished what I did. We worked and saved and did without for our children.”

Dayton Lovelady is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his sons Randy and Terrell; grandchildren Fran Bruner, Ryan Lovelady, Meagan and Haley Foster; a great-grandson Hayden Bruner, and his sister Ruth Walker.

The family will receive friends today from 3-6 p.m. at the home of Randy and Gail Lovelady, 112 Speir Place, Selma. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. June 1, at Church Street United Methodist Church. A private burial at New Live Oak Cemetery will follow.

For full obituary, please see page A2 of today’s Selma Times-Journal.