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Mays dies, first Black man to lead combined Augusta-Richmond

November 23, 2020 GMT

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The first Black person to serve as the mayor of the consolidated Augusta-Richmond County government has died.

Mayor Hardie Davis announced the death of Willie Mays III on Sunday. No cause of death was given.

Mays, 69, served in public office in August for nearly 30 years, succeeding his mother on the old Augusta city commission in 1979. The owner of a mortuary, Mays remained on the commission after the city and county consolidated in 1995.

Mays was named interim mayor in 2005 by the commission after a previous mayor resigned, but lost an election to Deke Copenhaver. He retired soon after.

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The city-county named its public defender’s office after Mays in 2017. At that ceremony, former Commissioner Betty Beard called Mays a key figure in the 50-year history of African Americans in Augusta and said he worked tirelessly to implement the 1996 law that consolidated Augusta and Richmond County.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.