COOPERSTOWN – Francis Hart May, Jr., 99, a retired Johns-Mansville executive vice president and decorated World War II veteran, died at the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home on Wednesday, July 13. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
Francis – better known as “Duck” – was born in 1917 in Dunkirk, Ind.
He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Business School prior to serving as a first lieutenant in the Philippines during World War II. Wounded twice during the war, he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for heroism under fire.
From his first job picking tomatoes for 17 cents a crate, Duck built a long and successful career in the glass/fiberglass industry. He began as a manager with Owens-Illinois Glass Co. in 1940 before co-founding Glass Fibers, Inc. in Toledo, Ohio. He went on to work for the Johns-Manville Corp. in New York City and Denver, Colo. for two decades, ultimately as director and executive vice president for finance.
Duck was a devoted husband to his late wife June Breen May (1915-2004), with whom he shared a 64-year marriage. He was also an avid downhill skier, a dedicated fisherman, a frustrated golfer, a heckuva clarinet player, and – to his grandchildren’s endless amusement – a skilled purveyor of show-stopping rural Indiana aphorisms.
He is also remembered as the most efficient telephone conversationalist of all time, and as the proud originator of the “F.H. May Rush Act,” which has mobilized generations of Mays in varying states of preparedness out the door and into the car in 30 seconds flat.
Duck and June enjoyed spending time in Hilton Head, S.C. In order to be with family, they eventually made their home in Cooperstown on Otsego Lake. Duck was an active member of the Cooperstown Rotary Club and served on the board of the Friends of Bassett.
He was predeceased by his parents, Francis and Agnes, his brothers James and John, and his beloved wife June. He is survived by three children, Francis May III of Stephentown, John May of Cooperstown, and Marcia May of Denver; and by daughters-in-law Amanda May of Cooperstown and Janet Ivory of Stephentown. Additionally, he has eight grandchildren: Abigail Gray, and Eric, John, Todd, James, Caitlin, Katherine and Elizabeth May. He has five (soon to be six) great-grandchildren. Thanks to Duck, all surviving family members know that radar detectors should reside under ball caps on one’s dashboard, that one should slow the car but never actually stop when visiting a national monument, and that no personal or professional setback is so great that it can’t be surmounted with the help of a long walk.
Jeepers Pete, Duck. We’ll miss the bejeezers out of you.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Thanksgiving Fund of the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home in Cooperstown.
The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday July 18, 2016 at 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Catholic Church in Cooperstown with Father John P. Rosson, pastor, and Father John Roos, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Cherry Valley, as concelebrants. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Index.
Funeral arrangements are under the guidance of Tillapaugh Funeral Service, Cooperstown.