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Black history is an essential part of the history of our nation, our communities, and our company. Black/African-American associates have been key members of the Rudolph Libbe Group team since our earliest years. This is the first in a series of articles celebrating the contributions of current associates and retirees and expressing our gratitude to them for being a part of the Rudolph Libbe Group.  —Bill Rudolph, Chairman, Rudolph Libbe Group

Willie “Superclutch” Jefferson arrived at Rudolph Libbe Inc. in 1965 as a 19-year-old laborer and stayed 42 years. He retired in 2007 as an operator—a career he loved.

Being an operator fulfilled a childhood dream. As a 10-year-old in Mississippi, he watched roadwork, intrigued by the thought of running equipment. Nine years later, a visit from his older brother, John Hicks, set him on the path to Toledo and a construction career.

“John worked at Rudolph,” Jefferson said. “He told me he worked in construction and how much money they made. He said laborers made $3.62 an hour, and I’m down there working for $3 a day.”

When his brother came home to Toledo, Jefferson moved here with him. “It was 4 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, July 7 or 8. John called Fritz [Rudolph] and said he was back and had brought me back with him.”

Rudolph told Jefferson to report for work the next morning to a new project – the University of Toledo Ritter Planetarium. He spent the next few years as a laborer before he became an operator, running dozers, cranes, backhoes and excavators.

Work was steady for the rest of his career—a direct result, he said, of a strong work ethic—always being on time, never missing a day of work and finishing every task. “I never had a layoff slip in 42 years,” he says.

Steady work made many things possible. He married six months after joining Rudolph Libbe and started a family. And there was still time for hobbies. “I got into racing big time. Big time.”

Within two years, his Rudolph Libbe coworkers knew him as “Superclutch” because of his skill in repairing and maintaining his racecar. In 13 years of retirement, he continued to race until last year, when he bought an RV and began traveling, often to see his six children and nine grandchildren.

Jefferson also is a parent again. He and his wife, Beatrice, are raising her 15-year-old grandson, Kaeshawn Williamson, after her daughter died in an auto accident. “He’s a good kid, a straight-A student. We got into camping last year. Last year, we went to 15 different campsites.”

Construction careers continue to run in the Jefferson family. One of his sons, LaKeith Jefferson, works for GEM Inc., another Rudolph Libbe Group company.

In May, Jefferson will turn 75. “So far, I’ve had a good life here. I hope to live another 100 years.”





Copyright © 2021 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/25/21 12:39:14 -0500.

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