Boat Yard Tales – Lovis Memorial

There are so many rewarding moments that come with owning a business; especially when that business is a small boat yard that requires hard work every day and never taking your mind off the objective. Looking back, the rewards are not just monetary. In a business like ours, with traditional, labor-intensive workdays that involve a lot of exposure to the elements, the real gratification comes from close friendships built with customers and employees.

When you are putting so much time into making a business as profitable as the plan allows, you also need to have some fun. And fortunately, when you are surrounded by water, people and boats, there is a lot of fun to be had while working. Cape Cod is home to many people who want to live out their senior years on the beautiful sandbar. Many have dreams of golfing, walking the beach, and fishing every day. Some dream of sailing. The following is a memorial for one of those special customers who became a dear friend.

Richard (Dick) S. Lovis, 1931-2018

I called him Lovis, and Davis is what he called me. We met in 1991. I was taking over the reins of Arey’s Pond Boat Yard and moving into our new home over the waterfront office. He was the first of the established customers to seek me out and introduce himself. I remember my first impression: a man very confident in his demeanor and a bit intimidating, but I could tell he cared deeply about the boat yard and Pleasant Bay. He offered his help in any way I might need it. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to running a business. But as days went by and our conversations continued, his positive attitude and support helped build my confidence.

One month into my dream of owning a boat yard, the ‘Perfect Storm’ hit Cape Cod. Dick and Jan, Dick’s wife, were the first to come down and help us prepare as the storm approached. They helped my wife, Robin, move our daughters, two-year-old, Brooke, and 2-month-old, Skye, to their house just up the hill from the boat yard. My good friend and first employee, Danny Gould, and I rode out the storm together at the yard. We motored a 13′ whaler down a flooded Arey’s Lane grabbing boats that had floated off their trailers. We had in excess of two feet of water in the shop and a foot in the office. We lost all of our power tools and most of our office equipment. Welcome to Cape Cod.

After the storm was over, Lovis was the first person to help with the cleanup. Over the years he helped me with many hurricane threats and floods. During the cleanup hours, he would give me words of wisdom that kept me going and we would brainstorm ideas on how to battle the next one. He always reassured me that everything would be alright. As the years went on and Dick started having his health battles, I saw a man who was so internally motivated to live, nothing was going to get in his way. He would continue to share his insights and give back to the community, his church, the Sandwich glass museum, FOPB and his family. There was no word or emotion that expressed giving up in his lexicon. His positive attitude carried him through many close calls. When asked by a physical therapist what his goal was for the future, he inevitably said to get back to sailing, and through many years, despite setbacks, he did just that. He made the most of every day. Despite whatever handicap he was forced to deal with, he always moved forward with a smile.

Soundings Magazine wrote a story about Dick and how he volunteered his time at the Newport International Boat Shows to sell boats for Arey’s Pond. And sell the boats he did. For 15 years, Dick and I trekked to Newport and Maine for the Annual Maine Boatbuilders Show. He would man the booth and sell boats. Our routine included a dinner out in Portland the night before the show opened. It was a strategy dinner. He always made sure the details of our presentation were perfect, and that I paid for dinner.

As our friendship grew, Dick was more than just a helping hand, he was my mentor. Our families became family and eventually next-door neighbors, sharing weddings, birthdays, many parties and Super Bowls.  His knowledge of management skills from his professional experience, helped me improve and expand my business. Dick deserves tremendous credit for 27 years of growth at Arey’s Pond Boat Yard.

A couple of years ago, I sat with Dick in his room at Liberty Commons and watched the first half of the Patriots game with him. When I arrived, he was asleep and the TV was off. We had our usual conversation:

“You know Davis, I was 57 and retired when you bought the boat yard.” Then he would ask, “How old are you now Davis?” I would tell him, then would come the advice on what I should do with my life and business.

As I was getting ready to head out, he said, “Davis, you know, every day now is the same. One runs right into the next. I have no idea what the weather is outside, what day it is, and I forgot all about the game.” In all my years of knowing Dick, that was the first series of comments that didn’t express a positive outlook on his life. It was hard to say my usual parting line—Hang in there, Dick, I’ll see you soon.

I sensed he was ready to shut it down, he was rightfully proud of his life and accomplishments. He worked hard to be a loving father of four and a good husband. He made the world a better place in his 87 years of life. And that is all any of us can wish for. He took his last breath knowing he gave it his all.

He lived and sailed with style and grace. I will always be grateful for our loving friendship. And Pleasant Bay will forever be his second home.

Sail on.

-Tony

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