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Thomas U. May

Thomas U. May

Thomas Upton May, 86, of New Athens, IL, born March 10, 1935 in Beardstown, IL, passed away at his residence on Wednesday September 29, 2021. May was a U.S. Navy veteran, rancher, licensed private pilot and retired science teacher at Red Bud High School , where he enjoyed serving as a student council  sponsor and a track & field official.  Though he was very active in the community, he was a devoted family man.  May was a member of St. John United Church of Christ in New Athens, IL, where his ministries included singing in the choir, serving as a church board member and organizing prayer partners.  As a true bird lover, he was passionate about his work with and through the Inland Bird Banding Association, Illinois Audubon Society, Kaskaskia Valley Audubon Society and the Lincoln Land Association of Bird Banders. Additionally, he served on the local library board.

May was preceded in death by his parents – Olen E. and Mary S. (Caton) May; and two brothers – John Caton May and William Hull May.

Surviving him are his beloved wife – Shirley Anne (Hollifield) May of New Athens, IL, who he married on June 30, 1957 in Spruce Pine, NC; four children – Susan (Bill) Borg of Whitney, TX, Melanie (Steven) Goodwin of Sarasota, FL, Thomas (Yukiko) May of Glen Carbon, IL and Anita (Mark) Schneidewind of Crest Hill, IL; one sister – Mary Jane Goulden of Houston, TX; eight grandchildren – Michael (Kristen) Schneidewind, Matthew Cholopisa, Joshua Cholopisa, Jacob (Christina) Goodwin, Brian Goodwin, Drew May, Katherine May and Noah May; and two great grandchildren – Margaret Schneidewind and Graham Goodwin – as well as beloved extended family.

Memorials in May’s honor may be made to Samaritan’s Purse for disaster relief. Visit for further information – under Memorial Giving search Thomas May Memorial.  Also, memorials can be made to St. John United Church of Christ.

Condolences to the family may be expressed online at

Visitation: Visiting hours will be from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday October 2, 2021 at St. John United Church of Christ in New Athens, IL.

Funeral: Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday October 2, 2021 at St. John United Church of Christ in New Athens, IL with Rev. Dr. Robert Koch officiating.  Entombment will follow at Valhalla Gardens Mausoleum in Belleville, IL

Heil-Schuessler Funeral Home in New Athens, IL is in charge of arrangements.

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  1. Rita & Jerry Luedtke says:

    Our deepest sympathy to Anita and family at the passing of her father. He is forever celebrating in heaven with our Lord and Savior.

    Much Love,

  2. Prayers to the family. I got a chance to meet him briefly but in that moment I knew what a special man he was. My sincere condolences to his wife and family and all who knew him.

  3. kay courtney says:

    Shirley and family-
    Know that Tom touched so many in his life as a teacher, bird lover, and friend. He was a longtime colleague and friend of mine at Red Bud CUSD #132 and later as a Kaskaskia Valley Audubon Society member. It was always a pleasure to see him.

  4. Pat (Mudd) Ramsey says:

    My deepest sympathy to the May family. Mr May was my science teacher in high school and I had the pleasure of seeing him occasionally later in life at different birding and nature events. He will be missed by all who knew him.

  5. Reba says:

    Shirley, I’ll miss Tom’s kind words, his sweet smile and his talking about birds (which we all know was his passion). I will always remember how you and Tom supported “Kids for Christ.” Please know that I’ll be praying for you and your family. So sorry for your family’s loss.

  6. Ruth Ann Hanft says:

    Shirley & Family- You are in my thoughts & prayers during this difficult time. Have great memories of Tom @ choir practice & singing on Sunday mornings. He was a wonderful person.

  7. Condolences to the family. Tom was a good friend to my Dad, Jim Burk. He will miss him very much. He was a kind person. Praying for the family for comfort.

  8. Becky Dever says:

    RIP Tom. Always such a sweet man, with a twinkle in his eyes. He sure loved his hummingbirds. ❤️ Condolences to Shirley and the rest of the May family and friend.

  9. Lee Spalt says:

    After high school Tom and I drove to Carbondale during the summer of 1953 to look for housing and to enroll at SIU for the fall quarter. Tom was a good classmate and friend and always had a twinkle in his eye. He will be remembered fondly.

  10. Nancy Tatum says:

    Thoughts of peace sent for Mr. May’s family and friends. He was a very nice man. He made learning science interesting and fun. I always enjoyed his classes!!

  11. Bob and Cindy Goodwin says:

    What a gentle and pleasant man who we had the pleasure of meeting and being with just a few times. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you let his memories heal your hearts.
    Love to All,
    Cindy and Bob Goodwin

  12. Shannon Kanipe says:

    I met Tom more than 25 years ago when I became a part of this family. I always was awed by his knowledge and kindness. I will always remember when he tried to teach me how to recognize an owl by his call. I will miss his forays to the mountains. My thoughts and prayers are with you all

  13. Cheryl Cockrell says:

    So sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful man.

  14. Edd,Kay Devall and family says:

    Tom was such a joy to be around. Our sympathies to Shirley and family. We loved to bring our kids out to fish in his pond and Edd enjoyed teaching with Tom. Prayers for comfort during this difficult time.

    • Ryan Devall says:

      RIP Mr May. One of my favorite teachers. Really enjoyed Advanced Earth Science with him my senior year.

  15. So sorry for your loss. Mr. May was my Earth Science teacher at Red Bud HS. I so enjoyed his class and he seemed to enjoy being with us teenagers.

  16. Pam Hammel says:

    So sorry for your loss.

  17. Luana Flynn says:

    Thinking of all of Tom’s family at this difficult time. I worked with Tom in Red Bud and always enjoyed his warm humor and thoughtful insights. He was a positive impact of many students and his co-workers.

    • Dena says:

      Shirley and family, I am so saddened for you loss of Tom. He was an awesome man and a great former neighbor! Tom was so knowledgable about birds and truly loved sharing his knowledge! He will forever be in our hearts and we are so thankful for the wonderful memories he gave us! Gary and Dena

  18. Valerie Mueller says:

    So sorry for your loss. Prayers to the family. He was a wonderful neighbor, I have very fond memories of going fishing with my husband and kids at his pond. Rest in peace.

  19. Mary Dudeck Haislip says:

    My sincerest condolences…
    Such a sweet sweet man always greeting me with a big smile and a warm hug whenever I would see him. Sending hugs Shirley and praying for peace and comfort through this difficult time for you all. Much love…

  20. Nicole Rohlfing says:

    Mr. May was one of my favorite peers in school. I respected him greatly and was recently wondering where he was! Prayers for peace and comfort and live the memories each day!

  21. Mark Stehl says:

    So sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to the May family during this difficult time. 🙏🏻

  22. Susan Zaring says:

    Prayers all around. Many wonderful memories singing in the choir. He always had a smile on his face. Shirley you are in my prayers. Sending hugs your way.

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