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Photo of George H. Clay

George H. Clay

  • President, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, 1961–1976
  • Born: February 14, 1911
  • Died: October 11, 1995

George H. Clay was the first native of the greater Kansas City area to be named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, a role he held from March 1, 1961, to February 29, 1976.

Born in 1911, in Kansas City, Kansas, Clay attended Kansas City Junior College and Liberty’s William Jewell College before enrolling at the University of Missouri, where he earned a law degree.1

Clay practiced corporate law for a decade until 1944 when he joined another Kansas City-based institution: Trans World Airlines (TWA). At TWA, he was heavily involved with developing New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport and in consolidating TWA’s overhaul base from Delaware to Kansas City. 

In 1958, Clay joined the Kansas City Fed as vice president and general counsel. "I thought the Federal Reserve Bank was… an excellent place to find opportunities for both public service and challenge." He assumed the role of Bank president in 1961. During his 15 years in that role, Clay was known for his open-door philosophy and sense of humor.1 He was also a staunch defender of the Federal Reserve’s decentralized regional structure. "The (Federal Reserve) System’s foundation rests firmly in regional orientation which has served the nation well,” Clay said at the time of his retirement. “It’s a sound blending of public and private interests focused toward an efficient financial system and the overall health of the nation’s economy. Regionally, we have supervisory and operational responsibilities with the banks in our own area. We take regional views to national forums." 1

Clay retired in February 1976.2 He died in 1995.3


Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as of November 2013 and updated by Ella Needler and Genevieve Podleski as of October 2022. See disclaimer and update policy.