Rudolph “Rudy” Clay, Sr.
On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, the Honorable Rudolph Clay, Sr., former Mayor of Gary, Indiana, made his transition from his earthly home to his heavenly home after a lengthy illness. Mayor Clay was born on July 16, 1935 in Hillsboro, Alabama. Following the untimely death of his mother, he was brought to Gary and raised by two aunts, Lucy Hunter and Daisy Washington. He began attending Israel C.M.E. Church at an early age and continued his Sunday school worship throughout his adult life. He was a proud graduate of Gary Roosevelt High School Class of 1953 and attended Indiana University Bloomington.
Rudy married the love of his life, Christine Swan, in 1957 and to this union was born Rudolph Clay, Jr. In 1959, Mayor Clay was drafted into the United States Army and received an Honorable Discharge after two years of service. Most of his tenure was spent as the Chaplain’s Assistant. Upon discharge, he pursued a long and distinguished career as an insurance agent for Prudential, State Farm and finally opening the Rudolph Clay Insurance Agency located in the Midtown area of the city of Gary.
In the 1960’s, Mayor Clay became involved in the civil rights struggles of that era. He marched with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and participated in boycotts, sit-ins, picketing and freedom rides. In 1970, he received the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) Operation Bread Basket Outstanding Activist Award.
In 1971, Clay’s triumphant fight for equality and justice took on a new dimension when he won the election to the Indiana General Assembly and became Indiana’s first African-American State Senator.
Mayor Clay made his mark over four decades in the political arena. He cast the deciding vote in the state senate, making it possible for the first African-American to become elected as Lake County Commissioner. He also became the first African-American to be elected County Recorder in the State of Indiana, and the first to become County Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. He served as Lake County Councilman, Lake County Commissioner and Chairman of the Gary Democratic Precinct Organization. He was able to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayor of his hometown and of the city that he loved, Gary, Indiana.
Mayor Clay was preceded in death by his parents, Willie and Maxie Clay; sister, Louise Small and brother, David Clay. He leaves to cherish memories of a wonderful and incredible journey, beloved wife and best friend, Christine “Chris” Clay; loving and devoted son, Rudy Jr.; brothers, Oscar (Gertha) Clay of Oakland, California and Vaughn (Stephanie) Clay of Pittsburgh, California; special friends, John McCloud and Roosevelt Powell and a host of nieces, nephews, friends and the residents of the city of Gary.
The family extends special thanks to his Israel C.M.E. Church family, University of Chicago staff members, Dr. Andrew Davis, Dr. Walter Stadler and Nurse Caroline Marinier and to Unity Hospice Nurse, April Garcia.
All services will be held at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary, Indiana.
The Celebration of the Life of Mayor Rudy Clay will include the Visitation on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., to be immediately followed by a commemorative service reflecting on his life, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. During the Visitation, King Solomon Lodge #57, F.&A.M., PHA, where Mayor Clay was a member, will make a presentation. Funeral services will be conducted on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 11 a.m. with Pastor Stephanie A. Welsh of Israel C.M.E. Church presiding. Mayor Clay’s eulogy will be presented by his former pastor, Reverend Dr. Essie Clark George. Services rendered by Smith, Bizzell and Warner Funeral Home. Interment at Ridgelawn Cemetery with full military rites. www.smithbizzellwarnerfuneralhome.com ~