Mays Printing, an icon in Detroit, has been in operation since 1946.
“J. Caulton Mays was a legend in Detroit’s business sector,” said William Ross, president of the Booker T. Washington Business District. “He contributed a lot to the Booker T. Washington Business District. He started a business that catered to large and small companies. He was willing to work with the smaller businesses to help them.”
Mays was born in Louisiana on Dec. 8, 1916. He graduated cum laude from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in June 1940. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Second Baptist Church, A. & A. S. R. Mason Scottish Rite Affiliation for over 50 years, becoming a 33rd degree Mason, a lifetime member of the NAACP, and member of the Booker T. Washington Business Association.
As one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Mays obtained the rank of sergeant in the Air Force and served as the associate editor of the “Hawk’s Cry,” the Tuskegee Airman newspaper. It was upon his completion of his tour-of-duty and receiving an honorable discharge that he ventured into the printing business.
Mays began his company by printing church bulletins after convincing four of Detroit’s top African-American businessmen to commit to $75 a month for a quarter page ad on the back of each bulletin. With this commitment, he was in business and was able to hire a secretary and purchase a used typewriter and hand-cranked mimeographing machine. His business quickly grew and in less than a year he moved out of the Lawyer’s Building to Oakland Avenue where he named his business Valley Publishing Company.
Soon, Valley outgrew its location on Oakland and the decision was made to move once again, but this time to and purchase a building in northwest Detroit on Livernois Avenue where the company was renamed Mays Printing Company, Inc.
Mays and Della C. Mays had four children. He later married Barbara V. Turner Mays. Both preceded him in death. LaTrelle Powers-Mays, his wife of more than 17 years, remained a loving, caring and supportive until his passing.
Mays is survived by his wife, LaTrelle Powers-Mays; four children, Phyllis Mays Rogers, James Caulton Mays, Alice Mays and Celestia Mays; four stepchildren, LeVerne Hicks, Deborah Lowe, Earlette Harper and Earle Powers Jr.; a brother, Thomas Mays; a sister, Birdie Mae Jones; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other relatives.
The family hour was held on Tuesday, Aug. 8, at James H. Cole Home for Funerals. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Second Baptist Church, 441 Monroe, with the Rev. Dr. Kevin M. Turman officiating.
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