Jack Mays, award-winning Ferndale artist, dies at 76

Jack Mays is pictured with a display of his editorial cartoons at The Ferndale Enterprise in February 2005. (Enterprise staff photo)

Jack Mays is pictured with a display of his editorial cartoons at The Ferndale Enterprise in February 2005. (Enterprise staff photo)

Ferndale artist and Enterprise cartoonist Jack Mays died peacefully Friday at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, surrounded by friends and family. He was 76.

Jack was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer in December 2004 and doctors estimated he had three months to live. He defied that prognosis and inspired others struggling with cancer.

In 2006, he used his vast collection of color-pencil drawings, which he rarely showed or sold, to help seed a new foundation called the Amaysing Grace Foundation, dedicated to assisting Ferndale families who must travel outside the area for their children’s medical care.

Long-time fellow Ferndale artist Carrie Grant produced a documentary about Mays and his life, “One More Line,” in 2009. The North Coast Journal called it “a tale of two artists: the one determined to die without a legacy and the one determined to preserve it.”

“I’m not interested in making art for the art world, but in making art for Ferndale,” Jack said in an artist’s statement for the film.

Jack won four National Newspaper Association awards for editorial cartooning, including first place awards in the association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2010 and 2012.

He drew more than 500 cartoons for The Enterprise and, in 1998, drew the newspaper’s masthead, a view down Ferndale’s Main Street.

A celebration of life will be announced later.

Look for more on Jack in next week’s edition of The Ferndale Enterprise.

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