San Antonio businessman Lowry Mays has died at the age of 87.
In 1972, Mays founded the San Antonio Broadcasting Company, which became Clear Channel Communications. The company purchased its first radio station, KEEZ-FM in San Antonio in 1972. He and his business partner Red McCombs bought a second San Antonio Station, WOAI, in 1975. This station was considered a "clear channel" station because no other station operated on its frequency and its 50,000-watt signal could be heard hundreds or even thousands of miles away on a clear night. The company grew over the years into what is now iHeartMedia.
Mays and his wife, Peggy, along with their family oversaw operations and giving of the Mays Family Foundation.
Mays was a 1957 graduate of Texas A&M University and the namesake of its business school.
"A really big tree fell in the Aggie forest today," said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. "We will never forget what he did for Aggieland."
Texas A&M's school of business was endowed by Mays in 1996 with a $15 million gift and was renamed the Lowry Mays College & Graduate School of Business. The university renamed the school once more in 2002 to Mays Business School. In 2017, the Mays Family Foundation gifted an additional $25 million, the largest single commitment in the business school's history. Both gifts were part of an overall lifetime giving of $47 million.
When the second major gift was announced, Mays said he was "honored to help support the school's vision to advance the world's prosperity… (and) to develop transformational leaders and tackle the challenges of entrepreneurship and innovation."
Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks said, "We are saddened to hear of Lowry Mays' passing today. He truly exemplified the Aggie core values. The Mays family has had a remarkable impact on the business school, providing countless opportunities for students and faculty, as well as on the university system through his service on the Board of Regents. Aggies are proud to carry on his legacy of leadership and service."
Mays Business School has grown to become one of the nation's leaders with several programs ranking in the top 20 nationally, and the Mays' generosity led to many endeavors that have no doubt contributed. In 2009, their $7.5 million gift supported a number of endowed faculty chairs including the Benton Cocanougher Chair, named for a dean emeritus and professor emeritus of the business school. Another result of the Mays' support was the establishment of the Mays Innovation Research Center, which seeks to understand the true nature of innovation and how it benefits society.
Eli Jones, professor of marketing, former dean of Mays Business School and holder of the Peggy Mays Eminent Scholar Chair, said he feels honored to have been able to known both Mays and his wife, Peggy, who died in November 2020.
“Lowry and I got close in our professional relationship that led to a close personal friendship – and in fact, I got close to the entire family, including Peggy, of which I hold the Peggy Mays Eminent Scholar chair," Jones said. "I can recall Lowry and Peggy hosting us for our prospective business honors students in San Antonio for years. They have done so much for Mays Business School in so many ways. I am blessed to have gotten to know Lowry. My wife Fern and I send our sincerest regards and prayers to the Mays family upon hearing about his passing.”
Interim Dean of Mays Business School Ricky Griffin said, "We’re eternally grateful to Lowry and the entire Mays family for their generosity toward Mays Business School for many years. We would not be where we are today without his and their support. My sincere condolences go out to the Mays family on Lowry’s passing."
In 2010, the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees honored Mays with its Sterling C. Evans Medal for his philanthropy to the university. And as a result of the Mays' service and generosity to the business school, the Peggy and Lowry Mays Impact Award was created and given to the couple in 2017. The award continues to be given in honor of those who impact the school through exemplary giving and strong leadership.