Wednesday, August 25, 2010
When Kay Wallace’s husband Les said he was going to take a year off to do nothing upon his retirement from U.S. Express in 2002, she said she was concerned.
“I was going crazy after a month,” he said.
Once Les Wallace had completed all possible projects in their Signal Mountain home, his wife suggested he shift his focus to others’ homes. As much of his work appears on the “honey do...” lists many women create for their husbands, she suggested he call his handyman business The Second Husband and take over routine home maintenance chores for widows and wives of busy men, whom she now refers to as his “second wives.”
Garbage disposals, ceiling fans, faucets and light fixtures are just a few of the household items Wallace said he repairs at a standard hourly rate for community members who are either physically unable or lack the time to do the work themselves.
He said he also pressure washes decks and driveways, replaces windows and floors as well as completing various other small repairs.
Wallace said the most rewarding aspect of the role of Second Husband is meeting people whose lives he is able to make a little easier.
“It’s nice to know you’re needed,” he said.
Wallace said his first customer, Vera Palmer, was a woman in her late 80s he met through a friend at Signal Crest United Methodist Church. In gratitude for introducing him to many new clients, Wallace said he did any work she needed for free until she passed away.
Although he said he has never advertised his services, Wallace has worked on jobs for more than 500 clients within the community.
Last October he invited many of his “second wives” over for tea at his home, where he greeted his guests dressed in a top hat and tuxedo.
“They needed to know that a handyman can also be a real gentleman,” said Kay Wallace, who came up with the idea for the party, which they plan to host annually.
Wallace regularly provides his services to local Realtors, clients of the Alexian Live at Home Program and residents of Westfield Condominiums’ 68 units. He also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity each month and donates his time to silent auctions for charities including Bethel Bible Village and the Salvation Army.
He said the most difficult aspect of his work is telling people “no.” There are some jobs he said he will not do , such as painting or cleaning gutters.
“Only height bothers me,” said Les Wallace, age 69. “I don’t want to hurt myself.”
He said he plans to continue performing odd jobs until his body becomes too tired, at which point he would like to pass along his knowledge and skills as an all-purpose fixer-upper to the next generation.
“Young men in their 20s don’t know how to fix the things that saved us so much money as a young married couple,” said Kay Wallace. “I think it’s his social responsibility to teach what he knows.”
Contact Second Husband Les Wallace at 517-8770 or firstname.lastname@example.org.