E. Jay Mayhew peacefully passed away Feb. 18, 2010 of natural causes. He was born in Belpre, Kan., to Allen A. and Mary (Wood) Mayhew on Nov. 1, 1916.
On Aug. 3, 1938, he eloped with Helen M. Moore, his wife of 65 years, who preceded him in death.
Jay graduated in 1941 from the Colorado School of Mines with a professional engineer degree in geology. Upon graduation, he went to work as the chief geologist for Great Lakes Carbon Company and moved to Moab. While in Moab he and Helen started their family with the birth of their first son, Jack in 1943. After two years in Moab they moved to Arcadia, Calif., where sons, Bob and Allen were added to the family. Jay quit Great Lakes Carbon Company after realizing he was spending too much time on the road and not enough at home.
Albuquerque was the place they settled when Jay started the first of his many business adventures, Utah Mud Company. They stayed only 10 months before moving to Aztec, N.M., near the center of the San Juan Basin drilling in the Four Corners region, where the bulk of the business was situated. From there it was back to Moab, where opportunities for geologists were opened by the Cold War need for uranium.
Jay started two more companies at this time, Apex Exploration and Moab Brine, Co. He, Helen and the boys stayed in Moab long enough for Jack and Bob to finish high school then moved back to Golden, Colo. Jay went to work for the Colorado School of Mines Research Foundation while Allen finished high school in Golden.
Jay took advantage of some business opportunities that passed his way and started Skyline Laboratories with partners from the Colorado School of Mines and others. While working with Skyline Labs he became involved with the exploration of clay minerals and the eventual business startup of Industrial Mineral Ventures, a clay mining/milling company that is in operation to this day. He also developed and received three patents for drilling fluids during this time.
While all of this was occurring, Jay formed a lifelong friendship and partnership with Hank Ruggeri, an attorney who also was attracted to Moab by the uranium frenzy in the Southwest during the 1950s. Jay and Hank purchased hundreds of patented mining claims from the Bonanza mining district in central Colorado. The eventual acreage was close to 500, and included some of the richest silver lode mines in Colorado.
These two friends spent endless time speculating on the treasure they had. They, and sometimes their families, spent countless hours walking, playing and exploring the beautiful mountaintop country they had purchased for back-taxes.
Among Jay’s friends were miners, ranchers, tool-pushers, drillers of the desert southwest, and the Colorado Plateau, along with financiers of Wall Street.
Jay and Helen loved to travel and had good times visiting friends in Hong Kong, visiting Jack and Carol in Singapore and Australia, sightseeing in Peru, Ecuador and China, chaperoning Girl Scouts in Mexico and adventuring in New Guinea, where they visited with natives who were barely half a generation removed from their custom of cannibalism.
While in Moab, Jay, as well as nearly 100 percent of the non-tee-totaling inhabitants, belonged to the Elks Club (a private affair where adults might enjoy the benefits of being adult by enjoying an occasional alcoholic beverage). One evening in the early 1960s, while enjoying such a beverage, he was suggesting to an acquaintance or two what things the State Legislature might do to improve the state. One of those in attendance at this impromptu gathering suggested he “put some action where his mouth was,” or something to that affect. Not being one to take back his words, he filed the proper forms to run for the Utah House of Representatives. His opponent was said to have noted that, since he believed Jay to be a “good man,” he dropped out of the race and left him unopposed.
While a member of the Utah House Jay attempted to pass “liquor by the drink” legislation; he strengthened and increased funding for the Utah Geological Survey and helped the fledgling College of Eastern Utah increase its share of the education dollar. Some members of the CEU family and the community of Price still remembered his contributions and efforts 15 years later – offering to “buy him a drink” whenever he passed through.
He also angered then Gov. George D. Clyde by proposing and passing legislation making it illegal for the state to use a contractor who has familial ties to the governor (W.W. Clyde Construction Company was the prime contractor on the new interstate highway system at the time).
Jay and Helen raised three sons, John D. (Carol), Robert J. (Julie), and Allen E. (Parys). They have eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, a daughter-in-law, Donna, friends, and business acquaintances the world over who will miss him.