Jack Laurin Mays passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on July 18 at the age of 76. Jack was born on July 13, 1938 to Jack Sr. and Lyndell Mays in Houston, Texas. He moved to Ferndale when he was 11 years old to the family home on Centerville Road. After graduating from Ferndale High School, he attended Humboldt State University and Mills College, from which he earned a bachelor of arts degree. He received a masters degree from the University of Washington. After meeting his future wife, Donna, at The Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle where they both worked, they moved back to Ferndale in 1967 after getting married in 1963. Prior to moving back, Jack taught art at the University of Wisconsin and Moore College of the Art & Design in Philadelphia. He later taught at College of the Redwoods and Ferndale Elementary School Jack started his foundry on Centerville Road in 1968 and operated it until the 1992 earthquakes caused severe damage. His bronze sculptures have been bought and displayed by collectors from far and wide. In 1969, Jack challenged fellow local sculptor Hobart Brown to a race, inaugurating the first kinetic sculpture race down Ferndale's Main Street during the town's annual art festival. That race began what is now a 45-year tradition and has been expanded to include cross-country terrain. After his foundry was demolished by the earthquakes, he began teaching at Ferndale Elementary with the goal of re-establishing creativity in grammar school. Mays owned and operated Ferndale Iron and Tole on Main Street from 1981 to 1985. While there he began drawing intricate colored pencil drawings of Ferndale street scenes. The drawings, some of them panoramas 20 panels long focused on iconic scenes of the Victorian Village, including the Ferndale Cemetery, the Humboldt County Fairgrounds and even the back of the city's parking lot. Mays was a dedicated father to four children, who he was so proud of. He also was a dedicated and loving son. For many years and until her passing, he was the caretaker of his mother, whom he loved dearly. Almost ten years ago, Mays was diagnosed with stage four terminal kidney cancer and given three months to live. He surprised all by outliving his initial diagnosis and often said that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to him. During those ten years, he traveled with his wife Donna, spent time with his children and grandchildren and started a foundation to help Ferndale families who needed to travel outside the area for medical care for their children. Jack was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his loving wife of almost 51 years, Donna; children Marcia Manker (Will), Michelle Mays (Larry), Jason Mays (Valerie), Ryan Mays (Sandy); six grandchildren, Erin and Kelsey Manker, Connor Mays, Zachary Johnson and Garret and Jamie Mays. He is also survived by his sister, Sylvia Townsend and numerous nieces and nephews. Special thanks to all the people who made Jack's last six months some of the best of his life: everyone who visited, rubbed his feet, and brought him lattes and food and special friends who were always there to help and encourage. You are too numerous to list, but you know who you are and we both appreciated you all so much. Thank you to Hospice, you gave him such great care and friendship; the VA for all the things that made his life a little easier and especially his ramp and power chair so he could have mobility and a little bit of his life back. Very sincere thanks to his wonderful doctors who made his difficult times more bearable and helped extend his life to its fullest extent: his oncologist, Dr. Jhangiani; hospital doctors: Dr. Amanzaheh and Dr. Ridz, and finally Dr. Han who went above and beyond to give him every chance to survive. And finally, all the nurses at St. Joes who gave Jack such excellent care and took good care of our family as well. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts! Memorial contributions may be made to the Amaysing Grace Foundation (P.O. Box 877, Ferndale, CA 95536) or Hospice of Humboldt. A celebration of life potluck and picnic is planned for 1 pm on Saturday, August 9 at Ferndale City Hall and the Village Green. Attendees are asked to bring a side dish or salad and beverage. Meat will be provided. In honor of Jack's iconic white plastic chair, those attending are also asked to BYOC (bring your own chair). Sweat pants are encouraged. Live music will be provided. Please sign the guestbook at www.times-standard.com and click on obits.
Published in Eureka Times-Standard on Aug. 3, 2014