The legacy of former Augusta commissioner and one-time interim Mayor Willie Mays already has a permanent place in the history books.
Back in 1979, Willie Mays decided to run for his mother’s former city council seat. Carry Mays was a trailblazer and widely respected in Augusta, particularly among city employees who felt they did not have a voice on the city council.
As soon as Willie Mays took office, he immediately realized he had a lot to live up to after he won her seat.
“I talked to a lot of old city employees, and they would tell me, “Willie, we don’t expect you to be as good as Mrs. Mays,’” Willie Mays told the Metro Spirit a few years ago. “But if you can be half as good as her, then you might be OK.’ I take great pride in that.”
There is no doubt about it, Willie Mays learned from the best. When he served on the Augusta Commission, he could talk circles around his critics and immediately command everyone’s attention in the room.
He is an outstanding politician.
But Mays has a second love other than politics: the family business.
Mays Mortuary, located at 1221 James Brown Blvd., was built in 1932 and has been thriving ever since.
To say Willie Mays knows the mortuary business inside and out is an understatement.
In fact, when Mays was child, like other kids, he enjoyed playing with toy cars. But instead of slamming the cars together in a demolition derby or racing them around a miniature track, young Willie had his own definition of fun.
“I would take my little station wagons and turn them into hearses,” Mays told the Metro Spirit in 2000. “I would have these cars strung out in every room on the floor. My daddy would always come walking in and almost step on some of the cars that I had lined up, so I would yell, ‘Watch out Daddy! I’m having a funeral!’”
The funeral business has always been in his blood.
Now that Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten is facing an indictment that accuses him of multiple counts of theft and violating his oath of office, some people throughout the community are suggesting that Willie Mays, with his history in politics and legacy with the family business, would be an ideal candidate to become the county’s next coroner.
If Tuten happens to be removed from office, Richmond County Probate Court Judge Harry James may appoint a person to complete Tuten’s term in office.
When Willie Mays served on the Augusta Commission, Harry James was an attorney who frequently worked with former County Attorney Jim Wall. Harry James and Willie Mays have a history, so some insiders believe that Mays could be James’ appointment.
But others are skeptical that Mays would even consider the job.
After all, let’s face it, Mays was notorious for not returning phone calls as a commissioner. That is not a particularly good trait for a coroner.
When someone dies, the coroner needs to pick up the phone. That’s a must.
Mays also had a tendency to run late to meetings. Particularly morning meetings. Also, not an ideal characteristic for a coroner.
While in theory Mays would be an excellent choice for coroner, the reality is the job might be too time consuming for the former commissioner.
Here’s an idea: Maybe Mays should consider running for mayor again? After all, they say the third time is a charm.