Wendell Wise Mayes Jr.

March 2, 1924September 12, 2021

Wendell Mayes, Jr. lived a long, productive and influential life as a radio and cable television executive, an advocate for higher education, a leader with diabetes organizations and as a respected and loved role model for his family. He passed away at 97 on September 12, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

Wendell was born in San Antonio on Texas Independence Day, March 2, 1924, to Wendell and Dorothy Mayes. He spent his early years in Brownwood, Texas and left to attend Schreiner Institute in Kerrville where he was later honored as a Distinguished Alumnus. Wendell served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as an aviation radar technician aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in the Pacific. After returning from the war, he attended Texas Technological College in Lubbock, earning a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Electrical Engineering. He proudly served on the Texas Tech University Board of Regents from ’85 to’91 including as Chairman from ’86 to ’88. He was a Distinguished Alumnus, a Distinguished Engineer and proud Red Raider for the rest of his life.

Wendell owned and operated radio stations and cable television systems in Texas and Oklahoma for fifty years, and he earned his reputation as a fair and generous businessman. Among the radio stations were KBWD in Brownwood, KCRS in Midland and KNOW and KCSW in Austin. Of the many honors and medals Wendell received, he was most proud of the George Foster Peabody Award. One of the most prestigious awards in broadcasting, it was presented to his radio station KNOW in 1973. He was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002. Wendell served in leadership roles at the National Association of Broadcasters and the Texas Association of Broadcasters. The TAB named him a Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year and presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

When Wendell retired from his media career, he went back to school and became a lifelong learner. Beginning at age 77 at St. Edward’s University, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, Summa Cum Laude, a Master of Liberal Arts and a Master of Business Administration. His education culminated at age 89 when he received a Ph.D. in Finance from Walden University. The 4,000 attendees at the graduation ceremony gave him a standing ovation. Wendell and his family have established scholarships at Texas Tech University, the University of Texas at Austin, Schreiner University, St. Edward’s University and Texas Woman’s University.

Wendell believed in community service, and he left the world a better place. He received a host of honors for volunteer service through the years. Known for his tireless support for diabetes organizations, he served as Chairman of the American Diabetes Association and President of the International Diabetes Federation. The national staff of the ADA called him “the brightest star on the Lone Star horizon.” He was a recipient of the Charles H. Best Medal, the Josiah Kirby Lilly, Sr. Award, the Addison B. Scoville Award and the Harold Rifkin Award from the ADA. In 1986, they conferred on him the first ever Wendell Mayes, Jr. Medal for Outstanding Service in the Cause of Diabetes. It is given to outstanding individuals in the fight against diabetes. The IDF made him an Honorary President and presented to him the Masaji Takeda Medal in Kobe, Japan. He was the first inductee into the Texas Diabetes Hall of Fame in 1994.

Wendell married Mary Jane King in 1946 in Brownwood, Texas. They had known each other since the second grade. The Mayes family made their homes in Brownwood, Midland and Austin, Texas over the years. Wendell and Mary Jane celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in May 2021 at their final home, Brookdale Westlake Hills. They were active members of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and The Headliners Club. Wendell loved to tell a story, writing eighteen books along the way. Always up with the current times, he was writing emails, texting, Googling and Zooming until his final days. Wendell’s legacy will be his kindness, his intelligence, his generosity and his devotion to Mary Jane.

Wendell is survived by his wife Mary Jane and their three children: Cathey Mayes of Austin, Sarah Mayes of Fort Collins, Colorado and Wendell Mayes III of Round Rock. Also surviving are his sister Jane Ellen Jamar of Brownwood, his sister-in-law Fannie Baker and husband Bill of Abilene, his brother-in-law Joe King and wife Lyn of Petoskey, Michigan and Venice, Florida, foreign exchange student Elena Llana del Arenal of Madrid, Spain and an abundance of special nieces and nephews.

Wendell’s much-loved grandchildren are Christy Collum and husband Jim of Fort Collins, Colorado, Chris Rollins and wife Ceseley of Dripping Springs, Leanne Moore and husband Tim of Weir, Karen Hull and husband Chris of Vienna, Austria, Emily Mayes of Chicago, Wendell Mayes IV of Round Rock, Blake Mayes and wife Cassie of Jarrell, and Hannah Mayes of Round Rock. Wendell was tremendously proud of his twelve great grandchildren: Robert, Jordan, Michael, Samantha, Aubrey, Will, Avery, Garrett, Lily, Allison, Henry and Oliver.

A memorial service to celebrate Wendell’s life will be held at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 3201 Windsor Road, Austin, Texas on Friday, September 17, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. The family requests that masks be worn at the service. In lieu of flowers, contributions to honor his memory may be made to the American Diabetes Association, Texas Tech University, Schreiner University and St. Edward’s University.


  • Memorial Service

    Friday, September 17, 2021


Wendell Wise Mayes Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Dewy Brooks

September 20, 2021

I met Wendell when I volunteered and served on the board of the American Diabetes Association . He was a very caring person who was always helping others. Condolences to family and friends. He will be missed.

Nancy Whitworth

September 19, 2021

Cathey, I remember your father well. And your mother, also. What a blessing it is to have had good parents. I wish you and your family well! Nancy Whitworth

Linda Siminerio

September 17, 2021

Wendell was a visionary ---and was a national and global leader in diabetes care.
I worked with him at the both the ADA and International Diabetes Federation (IDF) where he was greatly respected and admired.


Linda Siminerio
Past President of Health Care and Education ADA
Past Senior Vice President IDF

Mike Greene

September 16, 2021

Wendell was a terrific person. He inspired, encouraged and mentored me to be Chair of the Board of the ADA. Both before and after my tenure, he provided me positive, critical advice on many issues over many years.

At one one of many annual ADA meetings, Wendell gave my spouse, Alice, a framed gift which now hangs in a prominent place in our home. It reads "Love never ends", from the scripture.

If there is diabetes sainthood, Wendell is there. His well lived life has earned him the highest place in the afterlife. With much affection from one of his most admiring diabetes friends, Mike Greene. Chair of the Board 1994-1995, Founder and former Chair of ADA Research Foundation, Founder ADA Legal Advocacy Program

John Griffin

September 16, 2021

How many people did Wendell help during his life? Like the sands on a beach, we can't count them. Wendell had that spark and humanity that takes us in and makes us feel like family. Like Bob Woodman, my long time friend in Victoria, I feel that Wendell was a mentor and example until his last breath. No matter what issue confronted people with diabetes, Wendell was there to help. He helped my during my years on the board (2005-2012), and especially during my year as a successor of Wendell's as Chair of the Board. Even recently, as times were tough, Wendell conspired for the good of all people with diabetes. Whenever a helping hand is needed, if I think of Wendell, my hand goes up. God bless him and all his family. John Griffin

Rone Luczynski

September 15, 2021

Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of Mr. Mayer. He leaves an amazing legacy and we that serve on the National Board of the ADA appreciate everything he has done over the years. Sincerely, Rone Luczynski

Paula Hyatt

September 15, 2021

It was with great sadness that I learned of Wendell's death, but also wonderful to know that Mary Jane is still with us. Cathey, Sarah, and Wendy (yes I know you are no longer Wendy but to me you always will be) I have been remembering all the wonderful times our families spent together. I have often told stories about your family and the fun we had. Mother always spoke about your dad being such a lifelong learner. Wow, he did so much! I know how tough it is to loose your Dad. Please know that I will be there in spirit but am in New Mexico so can't attend. We should all be so blessed to have such a long and remarkable life.

Amy Burnett

September 15, 2021

Wendell (and he insisted that I call him Wendell) was in his early 80's (as I recall) when he was in the MBA finance class I taught at St. Edward's. He was a wonderful student and human being. I doubt that he was much challenged by the course material but he always had something insightful to add to the discussion since he had such vast work experience. I was so glad to have known him and have him in my class.

Geri Willems

September 15, 2021

Mr. Mayes was an extraordinary person and worked with me closely on trying to create a diabetes management program for Individuals on Medicaid. He offered great advice, an ear for my frustrations and opened doors to make it happen. Rest In Peace Mr. Mayes. We are all better for your life well lived. It was an honor to know you.

Sherry Shay

September 13, 2021

All the accolades about this truly remarkable man only skim the surface of who he was. Perhaps not known to some, he was as kind and generous a soul as one could hope to be. He helped me through one of the darkest times of my life—and I will never forget the kindness he and MaryJane showed to me. Years later, when my daughter was getting her masters at St. Edwards in Austin, his gracious and generous person emerged again in the life of my daughter as she won a scholarship of considerable means that he had given to St. Eds. I and my daughter are just one of many whose lives were enriched by knowing this man. Enjoy your wings, Wendall, you truly earned them by the life you led.