William G. (Bill) Mays, owner and founder of Mays Chemical Company, died Thursday December 4, 2014. The Evansville native passed away in Indianapolis on his 69th birthday.
Bill Mays, was a true entrepreneur and in the last third of the 20th Century Mays became Indiana’s most successful Black businessman. Mays established Mays Chemical in 1980 and it became one of the world’s largest chemical distributors. A company recognized as a source for chemicals, related raw materials and chemical management expertise.
In addition to his thriving chemical empire, Bill Mays’ entrepreneurial ventures included golf course, commercial business and residential properties and the historic Indianapolis recorder newspaper.
From 1992 to 2000, Bill Mays, with his partner broadcasting legend Bill Shirk, owned and operated some of Indianapolis’ most iconic and successful radio and television stations. Then Hoosier now Hot 96-3; then Kiss 106.7; Smooth Jazz 100.9 and WAV-TV/Channel 53. Indianapolis’ first Black-owned over the air television station. Mays and Shirk later sold the stations to Radio One in 2000.
Bill Mays was one of Indianapolis most distinguised and civic leaders. Mays was the first African-American chairman of the board for the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce as well as the first and only black chairman of the annual campaign for the United Way of Central Indiana.
Mays was also a director of Anthem and Wellpoint and the Vectren Corporation. Mays served on so many non profit boards that the list is to extensive to mention here.
Besides the radio and television stations, Mays’ was proud to continue the stewardship of the Indianapolis recorder, the 123year old newspaper. Upon his passing, Shannon Williams, President of the Recorder said about Bill Mays, “The entire state of Indiana is a little less great because Bill Mays is no longer with us. There are very few people who are as transparent, supportive and business-savvy as he was which makes his death even more difficult. I am grateful he had the insight and passion to purchase the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper at a time when it was at its most vulnerable. His efforts helped to preserve the history of African Americans in Indiana. The entire Recorder family mourns his passing while also celebrating his lasting legacy.”
Former recorder President and now member of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Bill Commission, Caroline Mays-Medley, Bill Mays’ niece commented, “Bill was a unique soul with a one-of-a-kind personality. He was incredibly passionate about the community, entrepreneurship and of course his family. He was a true giant amongst us who was always willing to lend a helping hand or create opportunities for others. He will be deeply missed.”
Mays is survived by his wife Dr. Rose Mays, retired associate dean of community affairs at Indiana University’s School of Nursing, daughters Kristin Mays-Corbitt, president of Mays Chemical and Heather Mays Woods, an educator. Upon his passing Dr. Mays said, “Our family is deeply saddened by Bill’s death. Words cannot express the sense of loss we feel. We are extremely grateful for the community’s support over these past few weeks. Please continue to pray for us.”
At this time, details on funeral services for Mays have not yet been released.
Alfred C. Liggins, President and CEO of Radio One, Inc. released the following statement on the passing of William G. Mays, business mogul.
“The Radio One Family is deeply saddened by the passing of William (Bill) Mays. He was a business icon – a gentle giant that perfectly embodied the genius and the generosity that great men are made of. Radio One purchased Bill’s Indianapolis stations in 2000 and he in turn became a shareholder and friend. No one conducted business like Bill. He was a dominant force in Indiana to be respected and reckoned with. The Indianapolis community will miss him. The African-American community has lost a gem; and I will sorely miss the man I called friend.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during their time of bereavement.”