Michael Love May, 76


Michael Love May, 76, of Doylestown PA, formerly of Cranbury, NJ died on June 16, 2023 after a short illness.

Michael was born to Frank P. and Mary Shaw May on September 2, 1946, in Quincy, FL. He grew up in Gainesville, FL, attended Davidson College in North Carolina, then returned to Gainesville to earn a PhD at the University of Florida.

In 1978 he took a position as professor of entomology at Rutgers University, where he worked until he retired in 2012. Most of his research focused on dragonflies or damselflies. He could often be found, net in hand, wading or canoeing after one or the other; his family lovingly remembers the fug of pond mud and wet sneakers that filled his car every summer. He co-authored the second edition of Dragonflies of North America and the first edition of Damselflies of North America, both considered seminal works in the field, and was a pioneer in the study of dragonfly migration.

Well respected and admired internationally, Michael co-founded the World Dragonfly Association and served a term as its president. He was a fair, compassionate, and caring mentor, a productive collaborator, and an inspiring leader in his scientific society.

His family remembers him as an even more avid birder than he was a dragonfly collector. He traveled extensively, from the Galapagos to Siberia, with the goal of bringing into focus as many new species as would fit through his binoculars. When asked why he chose to study insects instead of birds, he said he loved birds too much to make them his job – and besides, he wouldn’t have wanted to have to kill them to take specimens.

As well as a scholar and naturalist, he was a gentle, kind man who spoiled dogs, took children seriously, and loved his wife with great devotion.

As a friend, he was amusing, tolerant, and loyal. As a father, above all perceptive. And as a beloved husband, he was thoughtful and generous – a partner eager to share the world.

He is survived by his wife, Leslie May; by two sisters, Mary Love May and Jane Ritchie; by his son, James May, and daughter-in-law, Lauren Boehm; and by two granddaughters, Lydia and Frances May-Boehm.

Memorial services will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the World Wildlife Fund https://www.worldwildlife.org/ or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/ .

Arrangements by Varcoe-Thomas Funeral Home, 344 North Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901.