Transcript of interview with James A. Gay III by Joyce M. Wright, December, 1978


Digital ID
Transcript of interview with James A. Gay III by Joyce M. Wright, December, 1978
Material Set
Wright, Joyce M.
Interview with James A. Gay III conducted by Joyce M. Wright in December, 1978. Arriving in 1946 from Fordyce, Arkansas, Gay became the first African-American mortician in Las Vegas. He later worked as Assistant Manager of the Sands Hotel and Casino and Union Plaza while serving as an executive board member of the Culinary Union. Instrumental in the Las Vegas community, Gay worked to improved race relations, addressing social, economic, and civic issues. Gay was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1988.
James A. Gay, III was born in Fordyce, Arkansas, in 1919, came to Las Vegas in 1946. He narrates his experiences in southern Nevada since then. Gay reminisces about his education in Arkansas and his training at Worsham School of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois. He discusses a nine year delay in obtaining a license to practice his profession and attributes the delaying tactics to racial discrimination. Gay describes his work experience as a recreation director for the city and as a director of personnel and communications in the hotel industry prior to his re-employment as a mortician at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas. He recalls atomic testing at the Nevada Test Site and his participation as an employee on loan from the city. Active in NAACP and longtime chairman of the annual Freedom Fund Banquet, Gay recalls the 1970 banquet celebrating the centennial anniversary of the founding of NAACP and his most recent banquet, when he used the theme Think Black to call to the attention of the white community the many achievements of black people. Gay recalls a testimonial dinner given in his honor because of his contributions to the community. He closes by reciting two poems that have inspired him and express his philosophy.
Identified Individuals
Identified Corporate Bodies
Neighborhood City / Town
F849.L35 G39
Original Collection
Original Date (interview)
Subject (FAST)
DC Type
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Specific Genre (LCSH)
This material may be protected by copyright. Personal, including educational and academic, use of this material is without restriction; but acknowledgement of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries is requested whether the use is oral, web or in print. Commercial use of any portion of this material requires permission. For further information please contact Digital Collections: This document is an oral history. It is a spoken account of certain events and phenomena recorded at one particular moment and filtered through one individual's life experience, sensibility, and memory. As such, it should be considered a primary source rather than a final, verified, or complete narrative of the events it records.
Digital Publisher
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Digital Collection
Master Extent
2296 x 3159 pixels; 7.7 x 10.5 inches; 22,068,360 bytes; 31 images
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Master File Quality
24 bit color; 300 ppi

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