WILLIAMSBURG -- David Hooker started out at age 23 with $700 and a pickup truck.

Eighteen years later, he's a millionaire who says he's retired -- that's a cutback to 40 hours a week instead of 100. He spends much of his free time driving hay to drought-stricken farmers, carrying ice to hurricane victims and sponsoring local sports teams.

"I always wanted to be a millionaire, because I thought that was important. Now that I am, I don't think it is," said Hooker, who in his corduroy shirt and jeans prides himself on looking like a regular guy. He declines to reveal his exact worth.

He began with David Hooker Construction. Now he owns Handy Ice, World Wide Trophies and DEL Enterprises real estate. He's preparing to build a bottled water plant at his farm. Next will be a plastic bottle plant to make his own bottles for the water.

If it sounds like he's gearing up for long hours again, he is. "I probably need another year of relaxation, but I just can't," he said. "I can't handle too much relaxation. It just works on my nerves."

Growing up, Hooker worked for his dad. The Hookers weren't rich. He said he "always went to school clean," but his clothes weren't the best. His father worked on the Colonial Williamsburg restoration, drove a taxi, did landscaping and cut pulpwood.

At 9, Hooker started selling firewood and operating a bulldozer for his father. He started his first company at an age when many young people are just beginning to look for a job.

"Just roll your sleeves up and set goals, goals that will make you work a little bit," he said. "My dad was tough. He taught me how to work."

His father wasn't pleased when he decided to strike out on his own. "When I quit my dad, his first words were, 'I'll put you out of business.' I just knew I had to do my best."

"When I first started out, I had my name, $700 and a pickup truck," he said. He spent $350 of that to set up a corporation, then borrowed $15,000 to buy a dump truck. He hired a driver and borrowed more money to buy more equipment.

"A year and a half later, one of my competitors had two heart attacks in two years. He asked me one day if I wanted to buy his company," he said. The asking price was $202,000. "I said it might as well be a million. About three months later I bought that company. It mushroomed from that," he said.

But the long hours got old, and he retired four years ago. He's turned to helping others. But Hooker doesn't just write a check when he wants to be charitable. He commits himself.

He and a friend, retired state trooper L.R. "Ike" Iverson Sr., drove ice and other supplies to Charleston, S.C., six times in September 1989 for victims of Hurricane Hugo. "They needed ice more than they needed money," he said. He also took hay to farmers in Ohio, southwestern and western Virginia several years ago.

Hooker sponsors nine sports teams in baseball, softball, basketball, football, golf and bowling. "I spent over $34,000 last year on uniforms and jackets," he said.

His interest in sports came from playing baseball as a kid. "That was one of my childhood goals, to be a professional athlete and get my name on a bubble gum card," he said.

When he was 29, delivering ice to the Patrick Henry Inn, a man Hooker didn't recognize at first started talking to him.

"He said, 'You been playing any baseball lately? Do you think you're as good as you used to be?' I said, 'Take your glasses off.' It was Ray Goodwin, a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. About three days later he called me again. He wanted to know if I would like the opportunity" to play.

"I went to six training camps, then they found out I was 29 years old," said Hooker, who played shortstop and center field.

Still, the Montreal Expos and the Atlanta Braves offered him contracts, he said. "I turned them down because I had three businesses.

"It's probably been among the hardest things I've had to do," he said. "It took me a long time to get over it."

He still doesn't regret his decisions, any of them. "I wouldn't trade places with Prince Charles. I can go work in my barn, shovel manure. Swim in the swimming pool. I can do anything I want to.

"There's more to life than the almighty dollar. Your integrity: no one can take that away from you."