Professional Position: Retired Chairman and CEO
Company: Simmons First National Corporation
Location: Pine Bluff, AR
As a Marine, J. Thomas “Tommy” May served in psychological operations in Vietnam from 1967-70. He returned home to finish his bachelor’s degree and then his MBA at University of Arkansas.
His then 50-year career in banking began in New Orleans and eventually led him to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he grew Simmons Bank from a statewide bank to a regional powerhouse in the banking industry. May is chairman of the Simmons First Foundation. He is former chairman and chief executive officer of Simmons First National Corporation.
He serves on the University of Arkansas Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee, University of Arkansas Walton College of Business Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, Arkansas Research Alliance Board, and the Arkansas Executive Forum. May previously served as chairman of the Arkansas Bankers Association and served on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees for 10 years, including as chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustee from 2002-2003.
His honors include the James E. Harris Nonprofit Leadership Award, Sidney M. Brooks Fellow Award, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch Children’s Award, Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor’s Award, University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business Lifetime Achievement Award, and the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Medal.
May has served on a number of boards, including the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and has dedicated his time to many organizations, including the Boys Club of America and Habitat for Humanity. He is also loyal to his alma mater and is a huge fan of the Razorback football and basketball teams.
May enjoys family time with his wife, Kathryn, whom he credits along with other family, friends, and the Simmons employees and staff for providing the support he needed to get his life on course after his diagnosis of ALS in 2005. In 2008, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences dedicated the J. Thomas May Center for ALS Research.