Former Mayor Bays dead at 60

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- Larry Bays, former Albany mayor, accountant and visionary, died suddenly on Monday. He was 60.

Jody Bays, his brother, said he appeared to have suffered a coronary arrest in his bed early in the day. He was later pronounced dead at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

Henry Mathis, who was a city commissioner during Bays' tenure, said he was proud to have worked with him.

"Bays was a smart man," he said. "He understood how to manage the city's money."

Bays served as mayor 1986-1990. Mathis described that time period as a progressive one for Albany, with the introduction of the city's first black police chief and the development of Industrial Park.

"We made progress, not only as visionaries," Mathis said. "Bays believed in inclusive government.

"It was a progressive time. We were able to do great things under Bays' administration."

Larry Bays bought Thrush Aircraft, one of only two producers of agricultural aircraft in the world, in 2003 and was still serving as president at the time of his death. He'd been associated with the company through his accounting firm since 1977.

"Bays was human, but he had a big heart for the city of Albany," Mathis said. "He wanted to see the community grow, and he still continued to create economic opportunities in Albany.

"He will certainly be sorely missed."

Jody Bays also works with Thrush Aircraft. He declined to provide a statement on his brother's death when contacted Monday afternoon.

Bill Wood, an attorney with Smith, Gambrell and Russell in Atlanta, has served as legal representation for Thrush. The working relationship between Larry Bays and Wood went back to 1990 when Wood was serving as an attorney for the same company in which Bays was serving as an accountant.

"I worked with him as a friend," he said Monday. "It (his death) was a shock to me like everyone else."

Larry Bays' time as mayor ended when he was defeated by Tommy Coleman, currently the attorney for the Dougherty County School System, in a vigorous campaign. Coleman declined to comment on Bays' death.

At Monday night's City Commission meeting, Mayor Willie Adams asked for a moment of silence in memory of Bays.

The funeral arrangements are being handled by Mathews Funeral Home. Services are yet to be announced.