John M. Mays
Army colonel

John M. Mays, 86, a retired Army colonel who served in two wars and later worked on defense contract proposals for Atlantic Research Corp. and Mitre Corp., died Nov. 23 at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

He had congestive heart failure, said his daughter Kathy Summers.

Col. Mays joined the Army in the 1940s and was stationed at a U.S. prisoner-of-war camp during the Korean War. During the Vietnam War, he was a communications officer and adviser to South Vietnamese forces.

He was a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served at NATO headquarters in Paris, the Pentagon and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He retired from the military in 1978 and from the private sector in 1987.

John Milford Mays was born in Pittsburgh. He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1950 and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1964.

Col. Mays was a former Fairfax County resident and lived in Gainesville at the time of his death. He belonged to Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church and did volunteer work for the Smithsonian Institution.

His first wife, Arlene Leonard Mays, died in 1987 after 37 years of marriage. Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Delberta Libbey Grimes Mays of Gainesville; three daughters from his first marriage, Kathy Summers of Columbia, Va., Patricia Chidester of Bedford, Va., and Christine Waldron of Charlottesville; three stepsons, Glenn Grimes of Gainesville, Mark Grimes of Purcellville and Doug Grimes of Escondido, Calif.; a brother; 13 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

— Emily Langer