By Marina Petz
Holt Journal staff writer
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, John Hayhoe joked as he began discussing the ancestors of one of the most common farming family last names in the Delhi and Mason area.
“My folks came from a rural background, my dad from Dansville who had nine brothers and sisters.” said Hayhoe, a Delhi Township trustee. “We had like 35 family members go through the Mason School District.”
Hayhoe’s father’s side of the family has lived in Michigan for more than 100 years. Although family members live near each other, Hayhoe says the farming career keeps them at a distance.
Hayhoe, his two brothers and sister lived in Dansville and Mason with their parents until his father moved the family to Holt in 1968. The family lived down the street from an asphalt plant where his father worked.
“My dad got a house when MSU was buying out farm land and auctioning off houses for really cheap,” said Hayhoe, who graduated from Mason High School in 1969. “He set it up on Cedar Street and we lived there for the next 20 years.”
After graduating high school, Hayhoe attended Central Michigan University from 1970-1972, returning back to his roots in Holt where he eventually took over the family asphalt business.
“I’ve based my last 45 years around the asphalt company,” said Hayhoe, who has four children with his wife, Gail. “This is a third generation business. 80 percent of businesses don’t make it to the third generation.”
Although he officially handed over the business to his daughter in October, Hayhoe, 62, is still not fully ready to retire.
“For the last five years, my dad has sat in the house and watches television and only goes out to mow the lawn,” said Hayhoe, who has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Holt for 30 years. “I don’t want to do that.”
The free time he has is spent doing what he loves most, giving back to the community. Hayhoe is involved in various Delhi Township programs including Holt’s Relay For Life, Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt and Kiwanis Dictionary Project.
“Service to humanity is the best work of life,” said Hayhoe, who has supported the Holt Christmas Basket Project for 24 years. “Nothing gives me more joy than to help other people.”