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A Barren Place

Ione Lay looked proudly at her eldest son, Billy. She nodded approvingly as she prepared to say goodbye.

Billy was set to begin his first year at the A&M College of Texas. He knew his parents were proud that he had chosen to continue his education, the first in his family to attend college.

Tears began to fill Ione’s eyes. Not wanting to create a scene in front of her son, she gave Billy one last hug, turned and got into the family car.

Bill Lay spent more than 20 years as the director of admissions for Texas A&M University. He and his wife, Mary Jo, still call the Bryan-College Station area home.

Lay’s time in Aggieland began in the late summer of 1949. Bill still remembers his mother’s sniffles as she left him behind at The Annex, the Bryan Army Air Field home to A&M freshmen cadets from 1946 to 1950.


Dr. Bill Lay graduated from A&M in 1954 having been a member of both the Corps of Cadets and the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, including a stint at Bryan Air Force Base, Lay began a long and distinguished career as a teacher and administrator. During Lay’s nearly quarter-century tenure as director of admissions at Texas A&M, he admitted more students to the university than anyone in history.