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February 24, 2003

Bob May - Rest In Peace

John W. Ashbury

How do you say goodbye to someone who leaves so unexpectedly? It happens so suddenly that your mind swirls, and, for one of the few times in your life, you are left speechless.

This occurred a little more than a week ago with the untimely passing of Robert Scott "Bob" May, who gave so much of himself to others that often he left little time for himselfóor his family.

During The Presidentís Day snowstorm, he stepped from his front door to check on the snow piling up near his home heat pump when he was felled by a massive heart attack. He had recovered from previous heart problems, and he was more than just careful after that. There was little indication that he would leave us so soon.

Only 64 years-old, Bob was an architect who donated his time and expertise to many, including local churches and charities. He seldom said "no" to anyone who truly needed his assistance.

But his most endearing attribute was a smile that would light up a room. He possessed a wicked sense of humor that would exhibit itself at the most unexpected moments.

And he was a thoughtful man. He didnít jump to conclusions as so many of us do. He wanted the facts, and then, after much deliberation within himself, he would express his opinion.

The Kiwanis Club of Frederick has been the genesis of many long friendships. It was there that Bob demonstrated a love for his fellow man for all to see. He worked hard from the very start of his membership, and in just a couple of years he was put in the chairs leading to a year as president.

It was a remarkable year, if for no other reason than the understanding and humor he injected into every meeting. He didnít miss many Tuesday luncheons at Erniís Italian Kitchen on Rosemont Avenue.

But it was only a couple of years after his presidency that the press of business took him away from the club. He was missed, especially by those with whom he sat each week.

In December 1983, at the annual awards banquet, Bob was presented with the Kiwanian of The Year Award. It was my pleasure to make that presentation. Bob had become a close friend and confidant, and it was a real joy for me to be asked to offer remarks.

After enumerating his many accomplishments, I pulled a piece from Leaves Of Grass, a collection of inspirational essays and poems I had discovered just a couple of years earlier.

The piece I read that night is called simply "Tribute." I reprint it here for your edification. Perhaps it will give you an understanding of the kind of man Bob May was.

"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.

"I love you for putting your hand into my heaped up heart, and passing over all the foolish and frivolous and weak things which you cannot help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful, radiant belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.

"I love you for ignoring the possibilities of the fool and weakling in me, and for laying firm hold on the possibilities of good in me. I love you for closing your eyes to the discords in me, and for adding to the music in me by worshipful listening.

"I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life not a tavern, but a Temple, and of the words of my every day, not a reproach, but a song.

"I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it just by being yourself.

"Perhaps that is what being a friend means after all."

And so another chapter is closed. It, unhappily, ended with an unanticipated period. But as long as we remember Bob May, he will live. And there are those of us who will never forget his friendship, his understanding, and his smile, and, yes, his love.

Rest In Peace, Bob May! Your counsel will be sorely missed. We are only sorry that we hesitated to tell you how much you meant to so very many of us.

(Editorís Note: Contributions in the memory of Bob May should be directed to Earth & Science Lab, Spaceship Earth, C/O The Community Foundation of Frederick County, Inc., 312 East Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701. Bob had donated his Architectural services to the ongoing renovations at that facility.)

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