David Lloyd—Creating His Own Positive Universe

The first time that I met David Lloyd at his family’s gathering I was struck by his energy and enthusiasm for life. At 75, when many men have settled into their retirement routines, he still pops into work daily and does two-hour workouts at the gym. He’s raised five daughters and two sons with three wives, most of whom attend the same family get-togethers, and he still effuses a devotion to family and marriage that is palpable. An avid dancer his entire life, the past twelve years his passion for salsa dancing is the latest challenge he’s pursuing to keep him positively old.

Born in Linden, Alabama, the youngest of four children, David has worked odd jobs since he was ten years old. His mother died when he was five, leaving his father to raise two small children on his own. David was lucky enough to land a job taking care of the pool and grounds for the Jeffries, a wealthy family in town. He learned how to fix and assemble things from Mr. Jeffries, who treated him like a part of the family. David remembers how one day they were assembling a lawn mower together when Mr. Jeffries was called back to the shop. “By the time he returned the next day, I’d finished assembling the mower, put gas in it and mowed the lawn.” When Mr. Jeffries asked who had helped me put it together, I replied, ‘Nobody; you showed me.’” “You’re a smart fellow,” the older man told the young boy. This was the first time the young apprentice had heard this from his mentor, but it wouldn’t be the last. David claims, however, that all he had was “walking around sense” and a willingness to work. “You gotta love work. Work is your friend. It pays your bills. I love to work to this day,” says the septuagenarian.

Eventually, David’s ambition paid off and he started working at Mr. Jeffries’ mechanic shop. There he learned about cars, and he worked in the paint shop. At nineteen, he moved to San Diego, where within two weeks he had a job at a ship repair yard, the very one he purchased years later. His innate curiosity helped him learn quickly. One of the things he learned is how much information people are willing to share if one simply asks and listens.

Growing up in the South in the fifties, blacks and whites still drank from separate fountains. “If you were being waited on and a white person came in, they would stop serving you to wait on them. But when you grow up in that, you don’t think anything about it; you just accept it,” says Lloyd. He remembers the advice of a man early on who told him that white folk don’t go around thinking how they can shut the black man out; they are just focused on taking care of their families, and black folks shouldn’t expect to be included in their universe. “You don’t have to be the center of someone else’s universe. Start your own universe,” he would say. And that’s exactly what David did. He left the South behind for San Diego and built a business and a family. At one time he had ten locations and was taking in $28 million a year. Not bad for a young man who grew up without a toilet.

When he was twenty years old, he met his first wife, Zenobia, through her two-year old daughter. He lived in the apartment next door and little Bridget and her grandmother would be home during the day. As they were comfortable doing in the South, David would talk to the little girl, tell her how pretty she was, and take her for rides in his car. When she saw his yellow convertible out front, she’d know he was home from work and she’d often wander over to his place to say hi to her friend. One day when her grandmother was out, her mother, Zenobia, came looking for her. She found her at David’s, and from then on, David was taking the three of them for rides in his car. David and Zenobia married the next year and later had four daughters together.

Years later, after the couple divorced, David married his second wife, Anita, and had two sons with her. He and his third wife, Jo, have now been together for nearly twenty years. While it’s always easy for people to carry baggage with them from their tough times, David seems to have left his baggage at the door. He is still committed to being romantic and keeping women happy. “Women bring a lot to the party, a lot more than they realize,” he says. David also has six grandchildren (see photo on this page for all of David’s offspring).

Nowadays, this 75-year old is down to one plant, but he visits it everyday. “I retired one time but only lasted a month; you miss being part of the game,” he says. He also visits the gym regularly, where he has been a member since 1976. He does Zumba, cardio, weights and whatever else they offer. The guys he lifts weights with can’t believe his age. And his daughters sometimes can’t believe it either. They went on a cruise with him a few years back, and he danced them all under the table and was looking for other partners on deck.

Which brings us to his latest love….He tried Salsa dancing twelve years ago when it was first offered at his gym. That was it. He was hooked. He continued his practice with the more experienced dancers of Center Cut in Chula Vista, Calif. and has only missed a few classes in twelve years. Each visit gives him three hours of pure pleasure and an incredible workout. For his birthday each year, the poor guy is forced to dance with all thirty or so women in the class. No wonder he likes dancing so much!

When asked what he’s learned throughout his productive life, he says, “People don’t have enough faith in themselves….You only have to be as smart as a fifth grader.” David’s advice? If you want to do something, you should ask questions to learn about it and get the necessary training, and then you can make it happen. These are tried and true words from the small child who worked hard and experienced a lot in the process of creating his own universe.

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3 Responses to “David Lloyd—Creating His Own Positive Universe”
  1. Thanks Karen for a an interesting and well written article on my family, and ex. Yes we are still close friends, and all the children are considered as “ours”. Zenobia

  2. It was great spending time with you and your family on Christmas day, Zenobia. As David’s first wife and the mother of his five daughters, I was just thinking how wonderful it is that the two of you have been able to maintain such a positive relationship over the years. It certainly shows in the warmth and closeness of your extended families. You are a remarkable woman in your own right, and also one heck of a Beezleweezle player!

  3. I just want to tell you that I am new to blogging and really loved you’re web-site. Likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog post . You surely have incredible stories. Thanks for sharing with us your blog.

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