Highway honors Mays
Published 6:32 pm Thursday, April 29, 2004
By By Chuck Bodiford Publisher
A past resident of Atmore will soon be known by thousands of travelers along U.S. Interstate 65 as they travel between the Atmore and Flomaton exits. Two metal signs will be posted naming the section of highway between them in recognition of the man instrumental to the project that allowed Atmore to have a four-lane Highway, 21, to I-65.
The signage along the interstate will read "J.M. (Mac) Mays Memorial Highway." One of the signs will be posted at the exit north of Flomaton and the other one on the south exit of Atmore.
Before his death in March of 1984, Mays lived a life filled with service to others. After moving to Atmore in 1946 he was the owner and operator of the Atmore Office and School Supply Company along North Main Street, where Barnett and Associates is now located. Mays was elected to the House of Representatives for the 1966-1970 term, receiving 69% of the vote. Nearing the end of his career as a State Representative, Mays began to teach Senior III democracy classes from 1969-1970. Mays was able to bring a host of well known citizens and political leaders to his class in Escambia County High School, said his wife Edith Cruitt Mays.
Mays was also a member of many civic organizations. Some of these were the Atmore Methodist Church (now First United Methodist Church), the Lions Club and he was a Charter member of the Atmore Men's Garden Club.
An example of the legacy Mays left behind can be heard through the words that were spoken at his funeral. The Reverend Lamar Spencer is quoted as saying, "Many of you have discovered, as I came to, that he (Mays) is the kind of person that the more you know him the better you love him and appreciated him. As some would express, he grew on you."
After his passing, Mays was remembered in a number of ways. His wife, Mrs. Edith Mays, donated the Agape Prayer Garden between the sanctuary and Sunday school building at First United Methodist. One of the gingko trees in front of City Hall lives in his memory. And less than one month after his death, the House of Representatives passed Resolution 143 listing all the State Representatives mourning May's death, and signed by Governor George C. Wallace.
On Monday, Mac Mays was honored for his work on the four lane project of Highway 21. John Garrard a friend of the Mays family since 1949 contacted State Representative, Skippy White. At the home of Mac and Edith Mays, White presented a proclamation to Edith Mays, in honor of the role Mac played concerning the highway project.
"Mrs. Mays this is something, some kind of recognition that should have been done long ago," White said.
Garrard said he looked up to Mays as a mentor. "Mac and a few other men where my role models and mentors when I and Fonda (John's wife), moved here to Atmore."