D.W. Ellard, Jr. (Bill) was born in Birmingham, Alabama on August 28, 1937 to D. W., Sr. and Leta Osborn Ellard. When Bill was eleven, his father purchased a division of C. G. Kershaw Construction and founded Ellard Contracting Company. Bill worked as a water boy the summer of 1949 and began to learn the lessons of hard work and its rewards. He served two years in the U.S. Army in Europe and enrolled in Auburn University when he returned home.
At Auburn, he was a member of Theta Chi fraternity and earned an Accounting Degree in 1962. He was also known to hang out at the bowling alley and ply his skills as a “hustler” to get money to take out a girl who had caught his eye in one of his accounting classes. He joined the family business right after graduation, as well as married that same girl, Jean Baxter of Dothan, Alabama that same summer. They had two children, Drury, III and Jennifer.
He was named President of Ellard Contracting Co. in 1971 and served as chairman and trustee of the AGC’s Heavy Labor Committee through much of the 1970’s. Bill served as President of the Alabama Branch Associated General Contractors in 1980, a very difficult time for the construction industry. He also served as president of the Alabama Road Builders Association in 1984.
Mr. Ellard was a fierce competitor and was respected for both his technical knowledge and his ability to lead others. His business dealings were known to all as fair and honest but also very keenly crafted. He earned respect by knowing the rules of the game better than those that wrote them and applying them to his advantage. Never boastful, but humble and kind to all.
Bill worked tirelessly toward the success of the company through the tumultuous years of the 1980’s and survived to enjoy the benefits of those years of sacrifice and service to the industry he loved. He loved good competition and would bid just about every job in his market to keep the competition sharp. The company performed work for the Alabama Highway Department as well as other private developers, utilities and general contractors all over central and North Alabama maintaining its reputation for quality service and innovative solutions to constructing, scheduling and managing difficult projects.
As the company grew, he still enjoyed working and applying his experience by teaching others who still serve this industry today. His attention to detail, thoroughness and unwavering demand for “getting it right” served him and those around him well.
At the time of his death at age 63, Mr. Ellard was serving as the President of the State Licensing Board for General Contractors. In 2001 Mr. Ellard was inducted into the Alabama AGC Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.
Whenever life would share one of its many lessons, he would often refer to a line or two from his favorite poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling. He found great strength and comfort through those poetic insights and the real world applications to his life and the lives of those around him.
IF – Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!