Arthur R. Mai, son of William Sr. & Martha (Deines) Mai, was born December 25, 1924, at the home of his paternal grandparents in the Trego Center community south of WaKeeney, Kansas. His older twin sister, Katherine Elizabeth, did not survive. He was baptized on February 25, 1925, at Zion Lutheran Church at Trego Center, Kansas. He attended rural schools in Trego, Greeley, and Wallace Counties and graduated from Wallace County Community High School in 1942. Following graduation, he joined his father in farming until he was drafted into the Army in January 1945. He completed his training at Fort Robinson north of Little Rock, Arkansas, and shipped out of San Francisco for Manila in the Philippines on 11 July 1945. His troop was part of the Japanese Occupation Force following the end of the War. He arrived back in Sharon Springs October 8, 1946, and returned to farming with his father.
In November 1951, he began work at the ASCS office of the USDA in Sharon Springs and continued farming. He married Eunice Lundberg at the Sharon Lutheran Church on December 27, 1956, and they began a 57-year journey together, building their own farming business in 1957 with-in Wallace and Greeley Counties. Son Brent joined the family in 1964 followed by daughter Celia in 1966. The family enjoyed traveling together, especially by car, whether on six-week road trips or just little rides around the county. Over the years, Art & Eunice visited all 50 states and most Canadian Provinces. They also visited Mexico, Panama, Switzerland, France, Austria, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark.
Art retired as Wallace County USDA Executive Director in 1981, but continued to be actively engaged in farming until 2012. Through most of his professional and retired life, Art was an active member of the local Rotary Club serving for decades as the newsletter editor. He was Governor of District 5670 in 1984-1985, a Paul Harris Fellow and member of Rotary International’s Arch Klump Society.
Art was confirmed on August 20, 1939 at the Sharon Lutheran Church in Sharon Springs and was a member there for the rest of his life. He was very active with the Lutheran Quad Parish of Western Kansas, serving as the treasurer from its inception until its dissolution. He was an active member of the American Legion, and served as leader of the local unit a number of times.
A self-educated man, Art was always a champion for higher education and the arts. In honor of his parents, he established the endowed William and Martha Deines Mai Chair in Education at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. He was a long-time member of the Western Plains Arts Association, enjoying the concerts, plays, lectures, and other cultural events that it brought to Northwestern Kansas. For more than 30 years, Art was involved with Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, and its boardroom is named in his honor.
Art passed away peacefully at the age of 93 on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at his home in Sharon Springs, Kansas.
He is survived by son his Brent of Fairfield, Connecticut, daughter Celia of Sharon Springs, Kansas, and grandchildren Torrey Elder of Sharon Springs, Kansas; Caitlin Elder (Alan Williams) of Hays, Kansas; Maria Mai of Beaverton, Oregon; Tatum Elder of Oakley, Kansas, and her fiancée Jonathan Corbett; Anna Mai of La Jolla, California; and John Mai of Decorah, Iowa. He is also survived by two great grandsons: Dai'lyn Lee Elder and Brae'syn Patrick Williams both of Hays, Kansas. Along with a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins, he is survived by four brothers and one sister: Raymond of Lindsborg, Kansas; Vernon of Linn, Kansas; Bill (Wilma) of Sharon Springs, Kansas; Marilyn (Patrick Pickett) of Slater, Iowa; and David (Linda) of Sharon Springs, Kansas.
He is preceded in death by his wife Eunice on February 15, 2014, his parents, twin sister, brother Carl (in 1939), and three sisters-in-law: Ruth, Sylvia, and Ardyce.
Sharon Springs Cemetery