Edgar May – Springfield

Edgar May, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Vermont state senator, and chief operating officer of Special Olympics, from Springfield, Vt., died at age 83 on Dec. 27, 2012, in the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Hospital in Tucson, Ariz., where he made his winter home. The cause of death was a series of strokes, according to his sister, Madeleine May Kunin. May was born in Zurich, Switzerland on June 27, 1929. He immigrated to the United States on June 10, 1940 with his widowed mother and sister. May graduated from Princeton, N.J. high school in 1948. He attended night school at Columbia University of General Studies while working for The New York Times. He completed his studies at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he received a B.S. degree, summa cum laude. In Chicago he was a veteran of the Korean conflict and a speechwriter for military officers. He became a resident of Springfield in 1965. His first reporting job was for The Bellows Falls Times. He later worked for the Fitchburg Sentinel and The Buffalo Evening News. He won a Pulitzer Prize in Buffalo in 1961 for a 14-part series on the public welfare system. He later served as Inspector General of the Office of Economic Opportunity and established nation-wide Head Start Programs. He was also Deputy Director of VISTA. He developed a lifelong friendship with the Shriver and Kennedy families, becoming Shriver’s special assistant in the American Embassy in Paris. He was a Senior Consultant to the Ford Foundation, 1970-1975, where he wrote for Corrections Magazine. In addition to prison reform, he focused on drug abuse prevention and enhanced citizen participation. He married his second wife, Judith Hill May, in France and returned to Vermont in 1973. Though divorced in 2001, they welcomed the Kunin clan of nephews and nieces to a second home. May joined the Vermont House of Representatives, 1974-1982 and the Vermont Senate, 1984-1990, chairing the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a new career in Washington as COO of Special Olympics, he worked closely with Eunice Shriver, from 1993-1995. When he returned to Vermont he revitalized the city of Springfield. When the city received a grant from the state, in return for setting a prison, May lobbied to use the grant to build a recreation center for the community. The community recognized his contribution and involvement by naming the center in his honor “The Edgar May Health and Recreation Center” in 2009. He was very close to his family, including his sister, who he escorted down the aisle of the Vermont House of Representatives when she was inaugurated Governor in 1985. Survivors include: Arthur S. Kunin of Shelburne; Adam W. Kunin and his wife, Jane Kunin of Shelburne, Samuel Kunin and Jacob Kunin, of Shelburne. A celebration of Edgar May’s life will be at the Edgar May Health and Recreation Center in Springfield on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Edgar May’s memory, may be made to: Edgar May Health and Recreation Center, 140 Clinton Street, Springfield, VT, 05156, www.myreccenter.org.

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