Donald Mitchell May
A small bit of light on Earth and a large part of all our hearts has begun eternal life in heaven. Don May hit the timing scoreboard on September 15, 2022, with a time of 86 years, 9 months, and 3 days. Don was an unassuming servant of God; steadfast in his faith, he moved through life as an example of great humility and honor. As a Son, Husband, Dad, Pop, Grandpa, Friend, Coach, PE and Drivers Ed Teacher, and Mentor, He was a simple guy with few wants, and a straightforward view of life. He lived humbly every single day of his life, forever looking for the good or interesting in others. Don was born on December 12, 1935 in the city of Chicago. Graduating from Amundson High in 1953. He never claimed to be the “best” student, preferring to pal around with the boys and refine his charm. He earned his Masters in Education from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he joined the Theta Xi Fraternity where he earned the nick name “Bullet Head.” His boyhood charm grew with him into a handsome heartbreaker of a young man who caught the eye of the lovely Sylvia (Jean) Friske, daughter of Dr. Oscar Friske. Knowing she was the one, he married her as quickly as she would have him in 1957. What a blessed life they have had together, having celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on August 31st, 2022. Family was Don’s greatest joy in life. Intensely proud of his sons he was their biggest supporter. Don often expressed his awe of Kevin’s professional photography skills. He took pride that Ross followed in his footsteps as a PE teacher and swim coach. He and Jean travelled many times to be present for their granddaughter’s birthdays, conference swim meets, Nutcracker Ballets, and graduations. Across the years, Don was a lifelong lover of fitness. Running every morning at 4 a.m. and alongside every PE class, he led by example. Even after he retired, he remained committed to a healthy lifestyle, and he challenged his body at the gym daily well into his 80’s. Don took his first teaching job at Rockford West High School in 1959 where he also began his coaching career. His career continued at Guilford High School in 1965 where he taught PE and Driver’s Education and was named Head Coach of the Boys Swimming Team. Among the swim coaching community, Don enjoyed the admiration of the veteran coaches and officials for the success of his swimmers and the quality of his program. Even more, he built lasting relationships through a genuine interest in each and every person. Don never displayed an ounce of ego and could laugh at himself readily. The most important thing for Don in coaching was always the swimmers. He left a legacy of amazing lessons, not just in the pool but about life. Many of his swimming alumni fondly recall his humility, honesty, and genuine caring. He was noted to be one of the most significant people in the lives of many swimmers. He taught many how to be good human beings. Don is survived by his wife Jean May, son Kevin May (Jan Ebling), granddaughters Cali Jean May and Emma Carol Margaret, daughter Angela Schmitt (Jim), AJ Schmitt, extended family, and lifelong friends. Don is now reunited with his parents and beloved son Ross in heaven. Don may have hit the timing scoreboard in this race, but even though the timer stopped, his legacy never will. He will live on in the hearts and minds of those that he reached along the way.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 23, 2022 at Fred C. Olson Chapel, 1001 Second Ave., Rockford, IL. Visitation will be from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. prior to the service. Internment at Scandinavian Cemetery in Rockford. In lieu of flowers, the family requests for those who wish to express their sympathy to donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Don’s name. To view full obituary, send a condolence or share a memory, visit olsonfh.com.
Posted online on September 19, 2022
Published in Rockford Register Star