Arizona-based Wisdom Natural Brands founder and CEO James A. May has passed at the age of 80 due to heart complications.

May was known worldwide as theFather of Steviasince Wisdom Natural brands created SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener. Over the years May had been awarded multiple times for his work in the organic and natural sweetener industry. He is also credited with being the first to introduce stevia to the United States in 1982.

May’s assistance was of utmost importance in regards to the ban imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of stevia in 1994 and was vital to the creation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

Through May’s determination, stevia received the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe Status in March of 2008.

May began his business in his garage Scottsdale, AZ and soon expanded his Wisdom Natural Brands and SweetLeaf Products to North America and 30 countries.

May’s wife, Carol May, the president of the Wisdom Natural Brands and their son, Michael P. May, the chief operating officer, will continue to lead the family-owned business.