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Clorius Lay, the law was in his veins

GARY MAYOR Jerome Prince (left) presented the Key to the City to Attorney Clorius Lay in September 2023 

“We like to say give them their flowers before they pass away and that was certainly done for Atty. Clorius Lay,” said Chuck Hughes, President of the Gary Chamber of Commerce. 

In September 2023, Gary Mayor Jerome Prince awarded Atty. Lay the Key to the City of Gary. And for the Baptist Ministers Conference of Gary & Vicinity’s 2024 Martin Luther King Day Celebration, Atty. Lay received their Government Service Award. 

The attorney from Gary and 2nd District Lake County Councilman passed Monday morning, February 12. In conversations, Lay sometimes mentioned he was under orders from his doctor, but would not elaborate. He was 83. 

Calvin Bankhead, a former Gary Fire Department Division Chief, met Lay in 1974 and they have been friends since. He was Lay’s campaign manager in the 2022 Lake County Councilman contest. 

“I often teased Lay about his 32-page long resume,” Bankhead said. 

Atty. Lay often reminded others that he was not only a lawyer, but also a Certified Public Accountant. His professional career began in accounting after college. He graduated in 1966 from Indiana University in Bloomington after 4 years in the U.S. Air Force. 

A law degree came later in the 1970s after joining Richard Hatcher’s 1967 campaign for Gary mayor. That led to government service and his political career. 

“Many people say he had a lot of ego. He had some ego. But under that ego was a sense of humility. He was always about the truth and the law was in his veins,” Bankhead said. 

Atty. Lay was elected to his second term on the Gary City Council in 2019, serving from 2020 through 2022. He was first elected in 1995, serving from 1996-1999 during the Scott King administration. 

Gary Common Councilwoman Mary Brown, 3rd District said, “Clorius was a stickler for making sure things was done correctly, especially our ordinances and resolutions. If you wanted something done correctly, give it to Clorius, and he would make sure it was done right. I admired his tenacity in getting things done the RIGHT way.” 

Gary Common Councilwoman Linda Barnes-Caldwell, 5th District said, “There are some who bring a light so great to the world, that even after they have gone, the light remains. Atty. Lay was that light in our community, he will truly be missed.” 

Atty. Lay served the Office of Calumet Township Trustee as a member of its Board of Trustees and as its attorney. 

He was a Board of Trustees member during Kim Robinson’s first term as Calumet Township Trustee, from 2015-2018. 

“I have known Atty. Lay my entire life, as a family friend and a political mentor. My heart aches at his passing,” Robinson said, “but two things – he did not suffer and he definitely lived his life as Frank Sinatra would say ‘My Way!'” 

“I will miss him and his challenging me, but I know it was in love and making me do my best,” Robinson added. 

Former Gary Deputy Mayor Trent McCain called Lay the ‘dean of Lake County politics’. “Atty. Lay possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of Lake County politics and had an impeccable memory. We were planning to sit down for a steak dinner here soon to celebrate his 50th year in the law practice.” 

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