James A. Gay III was born March 6th, 1916 in Fordyce, Arkansas. Arriving in 1946, 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.