Ernest M. May, 89, Was Chemist, Philanthropist

Ernest M. May, Ph.D., a noted chemist, businessman and philanthropist, died on Dec. 6 at the age of 89. He was a resident of Summit, N.J., and maintained a summer residence on State Road in Chilmark.

Mr. May received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1934 and went on to the University of Chicago, receiving his master's degree in 1935 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry 1938.

Born in Newark, he was the son of the founder of Otto B. May Inc. After completing his education, he worked in the family company for the next 35 years, first as a chemist and eventually as president. He earned an international reputation as a chemist and businessman. He married the former Harriet Elizabeth (Betty) Dewey, and they had three children.

Mr. May's second, concurrent career in community service started in 1954, with his involvement in the Mental Health Association of Summit. His civic work included several years of service as a Summit councilman, but really blossomed in 1974, when he retired from Otto B. May.

In addition to his work on the town council, Mr. May served as a member of the Summit conservation committee, as president of the Family Service Association of Summit and as president of the Mental Health Association of Summit. He served Christ Hospital for many years as a trustee, including 18 years as senior vice chairman of the board. In a testimonial program held for him by the hospital, he was described as "a Renaissance man whose devotion, energy, intellect and social consciousness gave his leadership a unique quality which enhanced the development of Christ Hospital and its mission of community service."

Mr. May also served on boards and committees for Montclair State University, the National Commission on Nursing, the Association for Children of New Jersey, the Citizens Commission on Biomedical Ethics in New Jersey and the New Jersey Children Care Advisory Council. He was a past president of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and an advisor at both Rutgers and Princeton universities. In addition to his professional endeavors, Mr. May was a staunch supporter of the arts, especially opera, which he loved.

In addition to his wife of 62 years, he is survived by a sister, Helen Strauss; two sons, Ernie D. and Jim; his daughter, Susan; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, N.J. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the YCS Endowment Fund, 284 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104 Arrangements are by the William R. Dangler Funeral Home in Summit, N.J.