Baylor Mourns Death of Amarillo Philanthropist

  • News Photo 3794
    Troy Mays of Amarillo.
  • News Photo 3795
    Troy Mays (center) with Dr. Richard C. Scott (left) and Baylor President John M. Lilley (right) during the 2006 Founders Day celebration.
Sept. 22, 2006

Prominent Baylor University supporter and Amarillo philanthropist Troy M. Mays passed away Sept. 15 at the age of 82.

Memorial services were held Sept. 18 at First Baptist Church of Amarillo, with Dr. Winfred Moore, pastor emeritus, and Dr. Howard Batson officiating. Mays was laid to rest in Llano Cemetery.

"Baylor University extends its heartfelt sympathy to the Mays family and their many friends in the loss of a truly remarkable man," said Baylor President John M. Lilley. "Troy Mays loved his family deeply, and he extended that devotion to Baylor through his generous gifts and service that have supported so many different areas of the university - scholarships, capital projects, athletics - all with the goal of making a difference in the lives of each and every Baylor student. The entire Baylor family mourns his loss."

Mays entered Baylor in 1941 but left the university after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He joined the Navy in 1942 and spent three years as a quartermaster on a landing ship. After spending 15 years in the automobile finance industry, he joined the family in commercial real estate. Over his career, Mays successfully acquired and founded many businesses across numerous industries.

Mays supported numerous areas of Baylor near and dear to his heart, honoring family and friends in the process. The Mays family established the Troy and Betty Lou Mays Directorship of Student Foundation. Both Mays' daughters were active in Student Foundation, a group dedicated to service and the betterment of Baylor. An avid supporter of Baylor athletics, Mays could be found at every football game, cheering until the last second ticked off the clock. That loyalty and optimism led the family to fund the Betty Lou Mays Memorial Soccer Field in memory of Mr. Mays' first wife.

Scholarships also were important to the Mays, demonstrated through the establishment of the Agnes Mays Professorship of Entrepreneurship and the Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Mays Foundation Scholarship and support of the Winfred and Elizabeth Moore Center for Ministry Effectiveness. Mays was a member of the Endowed Scholarship society and was honored twice at yearly philanthropy banquets. On Jan. 30, 2006, Mays was awarded the Founders Medal, one of Baylor's most distinguished honors reserved for men and women whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of the university.

Mays also demonstrated his support of capital projects, including the McLane Student Life Center, Grant Teaff Plaza and Walkway, Stacy Riddle Panhellenic Forum, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Floyd Casey Stadium and Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat. Many gifts to Baylor were made possible through the Mays Foundation, a private organization founded in 1965 and of which Mays served as president.

Mays was a member of Baylor's Development Council, Old Main Society and Baylor Bear Foundation, and was a lifetime member of the Baylor Alumni Association.

In addition to his support of Baylor, Mays was active in the Amarillo community as well. He devoted nearly three decades as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. He served as trustee of the High Plains Baptist Hospital, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, Park Place Towers and as a member of the Mainland Advisory Council of the Hawaii Baptist Academy. He also ardently supported Wayland Baptist University and was honored in 2003 with the Distinguished Benefactor Alumni Award. In 2004, he received a Golden Nail Award for his generosity to the fine arts.

Mays was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Taylor P. Mays; and his first wife, Betty Lou Mays, in 1998.

Survivors include his wife, Billye B. Mays; two daughters, Stacy Sharp and husband Randy and Karra Hill and husband Todd, all of Amarillo; two stepsons, Bill Henderson and wife Judy and Lewis Henderson Jr. and wife Vicki, all of Amarillo; and six grandchildren, Meridith Sharp Genuchi and husband Matt, Austin Sharp, current Baylor students Troy Sharp and McKay Sharp, Christopher Hill and Heritage Hill.

Memorials can be made to First Baptist Church Music Ministry, 1208 S. Tyler St., Amarillo, TX 79101; Mays Endowed Scholarship Fund, Baylor University, One Bear Place, Box 97026, Waco, TX 76798-7026; or Hawaii Baptist Academy, 21 Bates St., Honolulu, HI 96817.

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