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Bill H. May

September 1, 2022

Posted 9/2/22

Funeral services for Bill H. May, age 96, of Shelbyville, were held Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the Chapel of Doak-Howell Funeral Home with Brother Jim Sorrells officiating...

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Bill H. May

September 1, 2022


Funeral services for Bill H. May, age 96, of Shelbyville, were held Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the Chapel of Doak-Howell Funeral Home with Brother Jim Sorrells officiating. Burial followed at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens. Mr. May passed from this life in Winchester, Thursday, September 1, 2022.

Visitation at the funeral home will be held prior to the funeral services beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Born July 31, 1926, Mr. May was the son of the late Roscoe (Dick) and Viola Pearl Ridenour May. He was preceded in death by: 1st wife, Rita Hayes May; Sisters: Rosie Norris, Betty Monday, Ernestine Borin, Mary Jane Butler; Brothers George May and Glen May; and step daughters: Melissa Smartt and Angela Griffy.

He was the first born of 10 children on July 31, 1926, in Clinton, TN and was named Billy May. He was drafted in his Senior year of high school at Norris High School. He served as a Rifleman in the 3rd Tank Batallion in World War II. He was shot during active duty and received a Purple Heart.

He finished high school after the war and graduated from college at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in 1950 (known now as Tennessee Tech). He played on the varsity basketball team while attending college. He met Rita Hayes from Decherd while they were in college and married in 1949.

Mr. May had a long meaningful career in education. His first job in education was as a teacher and coach at Sprayberry High School in Marietta GA. While at Sprayberry, from 1952-1959, he also became the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. While in Georgia, he earned his Master’s Degree from Emory University.

The May family moved to Shelbyville in 1959 where Mr. May was the Principal of Shelbyville Central High School from 1959-1966. In 1964, they purchased a farm in the Pleasant Grove Community of Bedford County. He and his wife, Rita, remodeled the colonial home, where he continued to live the rest of his life.

In 1966-1969, Mr. May was hired as the principal of the new Putnam County High School in Cookeville. Although his family of five moved to Cookeville, they kept the farm in Pleasant Grove and came back home there as often as possible.

Bill May worked in the private business sector for a decade but decided to go back to his love of education by coaching at Hampshire School in Maury County from 1982-1991. He coached the girls Jr. High and Sr. High basketball teams while serving as guidance counselor. In 1984, when he was 58, he earned his Ed. S. In Psychology and School Counseling from MTSU and UT. In 1986, his wife, Rita Hayes May passed away from a long battle of breast cancer.

For many years after retirement from education, Mr. May spent countless hours working on his Pleasant Grove farm that he loved. He was a member of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church and served in leadership on various committees at his Church. Mr. May was an active member for many years of the Liberty Lions Club and worked tirelessly in the Lions Club Vision program testing the vision of school age children. He and his wife Mary were avid fans of the Atlanta Braves.

He was very much loved and will be missed by his family and many friends.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Hale May; his children, Deborah (Clark) Lawrence, Tullahoma; Billy (Marilyn) May, Shelbyville; Edie May, Cleveland; and stepson, William Dee (Carol) Hale, Chapel Hill.

His grandchildren Eric (Joanne) May; Blaine May; Brian (Alisabeth) Lawrence; Andrea Lawrence and step-grandchildren: Brittany (Justin) Epperson, LaTonya (Brian) Curtis and Mary Hale; Andrew Smartt and Daniel Smartt. Great grandchildren, Aaron May, Charlie May, Theodore Lawrence and step-great-grandchildren: Bailey Curtis and Mason Curtis. Sisters, Dorothy Pearl Hunter, Michigan; Carolyn Baker, Clinton TN; Brother, Calvin (Lillian) May, Breckenridge, Texas.

Memorial donations may be made to Liberty Lions Club, P. O. Box 433, Shelbyville TN 37162 or Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 2268, Shelbyville, TN 37162 or Bedford Cancer Foundation at www.bedfordcancerfoundation.org or by mail: P.O. Box 1523, Shelbyville, TN 37162-1523.

Doak-Howell Funeral Home is serving the family.


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