The late William “Bill” G. Mays was a pioneering Indiana businessman who applied his resources to bring prominence to not only his holdings but other entities across the state. Among his many accomplishments, Mays was the first African-American chairman of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, cementing his designation as one of the state’s most successful businessmen.
Mays was born December 4, 1945 in Evansville, Indiana. Graduating at the top of his class, Mays entered Indiana University and followed the footsteps of his chemical professor father en route to earning a degree in chemistry in 1970. He earned his MBA from the school in 1973.
Combining his interests in science and business, Mays worked for several prominent chemical companies throughout the ’70’s while amassing leadership experience. In 1980, using a bank loan and savings, he began the Mays Chemical Company earning $2.2 million in sales in his first year. As the company grew, May absorbed smaller chemical companies into his own brand before expanding nationally.
In the ’90’s, Mays revived the state’s oldest Black newspaper, The Indianapolis Recorder, which is also the fourth-oldest newspaper in the nation. Mays lent his advice and mentorship to other aspiring business owners and became the first Black person elected to the Indiana Hoosier Lottery Commission.
In 1996, Mays carried the Olympic Torch during its stop as part of its national tour before concluding in Los Angeles for the Summer Games.
Mays passed away on his 69th birthday, and was survived by his wife, Rose Mays, a professor at Indiana University, along with their daughters.
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