Simmons First CEO Tommy May is a member of the state’s business hall of fame, but one of his greatest contributions to Arkansas’ corporate leadership may be his living testimony of tenacity and grit.
Our content partner, AY magazine, has a feature story on May’s battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He’s helped spearhead a new effort at UAMS to speed up research of the disease. And at a banker’s forum on Tuesday night, May showed he’s still deeply engaged in his industry’s business.
A diagnosis of an incurable, fatal disease has not stopped J. Thomas May, president and CEO of Simmons First National Bank. In his office in the executive suite at the bank’s headquarters in Pine Bluff, Ark., a grandfather clock keeps time while a smaller, yet equally impressive desk clock, decorated with an engraved brass plate, clicks each second.
May is one of the 30,000 people living in the United States with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Most statistics show that people die within 3 to 5 years from the date of diagnosis,” said May, who was diagnosed in 2005. “There’s not one single thing about the diagnosis that’s good.”
The mental strength that once allowed May to conduct psychological operations as a marine in Vietnam is now focused on combating the neurodegenerative disease. ALS does not define this successful banker, loyal friend and family man.
“After my diagnosis, the magnitude of the medical challenge began to set in. I prayed a lot. After a period of fretting about it, my wife and I — and my kids — came to the belief that we simply needed to turn it over to the Lord. Once I did, there was a sense of peace. I have been reinvigorated to go out and find new resources while I can.”
Read more here about May’s efforts to thwart ALS and how he’s keeping his perspective in check. Courageous and compelling stuff.