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Rudolph M. Clay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rudy Clay
18th Mayor of Gary
In office
April 7, 2006 – January 1, 2012
Preceded byScott L. King
Succeeded byKaren Freeman-Wilson
Lake County Commissioner
In office
January 1, 1987 – April 7, 2006
Lake County Recorder
In office
January 1, 1985 – January 1, 1987
Lake County Councilman
In office
Member of the Indiana Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
Preceded byJohn Franklin Shawley[1]
Succeeded byKatie Hall
Personal details
Rudolph Clay

(1935-07-16)July 16, 1935
Hillsboro, Alabama, U.S.
Died June 4, 2014(2014-06-04) (aged 78)
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Christine Swan (m. 1957)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1959–1961
UnitUnited States Army Chaplain Corps

Rudolph Clay (July 16, 1935 – June 4, 2013[2]) was an American Democratic politician.[3][4] He served as the mayor of Gary, Indiana and member of the Indiana Senate from 1972 to 1976.[5]

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Early life

Rudolph Clay, nicknamed Rudy, was born in Hillsboro, Alabama. His mother died shortly after his birth. His father William "Willie" Clay[6] was absent from his life for 35 years. Two of his aunts, Lucy Hunter and Daisy Washington moved him to Gary, Indiana in 1936. He attended Gary public schools, graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1953.[7] Clay was a pledge (prospective member) of Alpha Phi Alpha while he attended Indiana University Bloomington in 1956 on an athletic scholarship.[8] He later continued study at Indiana University Northwest. Rudy married Christine Swan[6] on 30 November 1957. A Methodist, Clay served as a specialist 4th class in the United States Army Chaplain Corps, 1959-1961.[7] Rudy's son, Rudolph Clay, Jr.[6] was born in 1960.

Clay was the owner-operator of an insurance agency in the 1960s and also owner of wholesale-retail jewelry outlets called Swing-N-Ears.

He was a Democratic state convention and national convention delegate on several occasions within his legislative service.[7]

Public life

Clay as a Democrat was elected to the Indiana Senate in 1972, becoming Lake County's first African-American State Senator in the 1973-1976 legislative term. He was an advocate for civil rights and equal justice for all and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. He lost re-election to an additional term in 1976.[7] In 1977 Clay was elected Lake County Councilman before becoming the first African-American Lake County Recorder in the State of Indiana's history.

Clay was elected and served as a Lake County Commissioner in which he served as board president several times during his 1987- 2006 tenure.[7] Clay also was elected the first African-American Chair of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee,[3] he also held the City of Gary democratic chair at the same time. In his democratic chairman post he helped the then Senator Barack Obama win the State of Indiana for President of the United States of America which a democrat had not won in Indiana in 60 years.

Clay was elected Mayor of the City of Gary, Indiana by special election in 2006 following the resignation of Scott L. King, and again to a full term in the 2007 municipal election.[3] As mayor, Clay led the city's efforts to successfully reduce its fiscal budget by $62 million while creating improvements in four major areas:

  • Demolish abandoned and dilapidated buildings
  • Pave streets
  • Emphasize public safety by increasing police officers and patrol cars
  • Economic development funding to attract new businesses

In addition to reducing the budget, Clay's government gained over $2 million in federal funding through three different programs to improve the community.

In April 2011, shortly before the primary election, Clay announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer and would not seek reelection.[9] He endorsed Karen Freeman-Wilson as his successor. Clay died on 4 June 2013 in his home in Gary, Indiana.[7]

Clay was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Association of County Officials,[10] Lake County Economic Opportunity Council, and the Minority Businessmen Steering Committee of Gary.[7]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Rudy Clay timeline". Post-Tribune. 2011-05-12. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  3. ^ a b c Rudy Clay. "Rudy Clay - Biography". Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  4. ^ WHY PEOPLE LOVE RUDY CLAYAN UNTOLD SECRET THAT HELPED PAVED THE WAY FOR BLACKS IN NORTHWEST INDIANA By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen (Internet Wayback Machine: Rudy Clay Biography on 12 May 2011, accessed September 2016)
  5. ^ "Ex-Gary Mayor Rudy Clay dies after battling prostate cancer - 13 WTHR Indianapolis". 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  6. ^ a b c Rudolph "Rudy" Clay funeral home announcement (, paid subscription site)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Indiana General Assembly Former Legislators: Rudolph Clay
  8. ^ Indiana University 1956 Yearbook, page 265.
  9. ^ "Clay ends campaign due to prostate cancer". Times of Northwest Indiana. 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  10. ^ National Association of Counties
This page was last edited on 30 July 2019, at 19:12
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