Clorius Lay, a longtime Gary attorney and current Lake County Councilman, was remembered Monday by family, friends and colleagues as a brilliant attorney, a dedicated politician and a devoted family man after his unexpected death.
Chloe Lay of Gary confirmed Monday that her father died unexpectedly early Monday morning.
“Right now, it’s unreal. He was a great man. They just loved him so much. He loved the community of him. He loved his family. “It’s a big loss for us,” Chloe Lay said.
She said her father often seemed tough on the outside, but always acted out of love.
“He was just a good man, a very, very good man. He will be deeply missed,” he said.
Chloe Lay said her father had more accomplishments than she could list. In 2001, she was named a Distinguished Hoosier. In 2023, then-Mayor Jerome Prince delivered Lay the Key to the City. He was also honored with the Golden Hoosier Award in 2023, among other honors. He was very proud to be named Sagamore of the Wabash, an honor bestowed upon him in August 2017 by Gov. Eric Holcomb, he said.
Lay was devoted to his family and was best friends with his 7-year-old grandson Harrison. The couple spent a lot of time together. Lay also has two granddaughters, Ragen and Meredith Lay, of Mississippi, daughters of his late son Rosmond.
“He was a very logical man. The way he would think is the way he would act in life. He was definitely one of a kind,” Chloe Lay said.
Prior to joining the Lake County Council, Lay served as an At-Large Councilman on the Gary Common Council, a position he held on two separate occasions. In the early 1990s, Lay served on Gary’s first elected school board. He also served four terms on the Calumet Township Board.
Lay was active in the city’s civil rights movement during the 1960s and ’70s, working with the late Mayor Richard Hatcher and was instrumental in bringing the National Black Political Convention to Gary in 1972.
Lake County Council President Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, expressed her deepest condolences to the family.
“I am saddened by the sudden passing of my colleague, Councilor Lay. He knew he was a legend in his community. A force to be reckoned with. He always said what he had in mind. He was an honest, trusting and kind man. “We will miss him,” Cid said.
Attorney Rinzer Williams described Lay as a friend and mentor.
“We met in the early 2000s and he liked me,” Williams said. He was in law school at the time and offered support and guidance as Williams worked to pass the exam.
“He was my biggest critic and my biggest fan,” Williams said, adding that when he struggled to pass the bar, Lay would tell him, “You’re too smart to be that dumb,” Williams recalled.
Lay did not mince his words, but his support could be counted on.
“He knew how to motivate you,” Rinzer said.
Lay took pride in his upbringing and the work ethic he said it instilled in him, Williams said. He was a man of superior intelligence and equally hardworking.
“He was an icon in the legal community. I don’t think there’s any level of law that he hasn’t practiced,” Williams said, adding that he has tried to mirror his own career after Lay.
Williams described Lay as always impeccably dressed, as Lay knew as much about dress as he did about law. He knew where the wool was made and the stitch pattern.
“He talked about dressing like he was a law professor. He was proud of that. I think his greatest love was dressing,” Williams said.
The county councilor was also a master checkers player.
Jim Wieser, chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, said Lay’s death was a loss to the community and the party.
“It’s just sad. We lost two really good men, good Gary public officials within several weeks of each other. That’s just hard,” Wieser said. Lay’s death comes on the heels of the death of Calumet Township Assessor Cozey Weatherspoon on Jan. 16.
He said Lay supported the county party after he was elected to the county council. He also had a genuine interest in the concerns of the various county departments.
“He was just a good man. He is unexpected and sad,” Wieser said.
Republican County Councilman Randy Niemeyer and Lay formed an unlikely friendship in their first year on the body that had continued to grow. The men share an age difference of more than three decades and different political ideologies.
“He was my friend. “I think we both really respect our differences,” Niemeyer said. Political differences did not drive a wedge between the two, but rather brought them together through their mutual respect for the process of government.
“That respect for our procedures and rules was one of the things that really brought us together. “We both had that point of view,” Niemeyer said. “He had pure passion for public service. “We were kindred spirits in that sense.”
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to spend time with him, to learn about his life, his journey,” Niemeyer said. “He was a very interesting man, a very kind mind, a great public servant and a good friend.”
He said Lay was really in office for other people.
“He had a deep passion for giving back and trying to help others. That was probably the most important thing I learned from him: his passion for serving other people,” Niemeyer said.
“It’s a sad day. I’m definitely going to take some time to be grateful for the opportunity I had to meet such a unique person and such a passionate public servant. “My life is better for having had the opportunity to become friends with Clorius,” Niemeyer said.