Stephen Veteran of the Royal Canadian Artillary and an independent spirit . Peacefully in hospital on Friday, May 5, 2000 aged 80 years, Stephen Geoffrey Theodore May. Son of the late Geoffrey and Zita May. Dear brother of Barbara May and late Audrey Rider. Uncle of Barbara Frenke (Scarsdale, NY) and Geoffrey Rider (Ottawa). Memorial Service to be announced. For those wishing, donations to the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation will be appreciated. Arrangements in care of the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair and McGarry. Publication date 5/6/00
"I first laid eyes on the man at the beginning of my second Feller year. He had been introduced by "Butch" as the new housemaster and English teacher. We were all standing around the chapel while Steve spoke to us and quietly established his authority. He was replacing M.Mantha, a white-haired, dignified man who spoke such beautiful continental french that his frequent public announcements often left staff and students with looks of wonder and confusion. Steve's little talk with us had no menace but left no doubt that there was a new sheriff in town.
My first serious dealings with Steve began rather badly. Having heard that some boys were interested in forming a cadet corps, he, recognising the potential, set about schmoozing the navy into adopting us. The previous year, a well-meaning but ineffective teacher (whose name escapes me) tried the air force with zero results. This time, things were different. Using his formidible charm and political savvy, the navy was soon coming to Feller. Plans were put in place for a few of the junior and senior guys to become petty officers and officers. Before I knew it, events had overtaken me and I was left out of the picture. Tearfully (I must admit) I apporached Steve and told him my story.... In the spring of the previous year (after carefully getting permission from Butch and Mr.Meldrum) I set about convincing a few guys that it would be lots of fun if we became a cadet corps. Having left Montreal with the rank of Sgt. major in army cadets, I, at least, had some knowledge of how the thing might work. Once I began describing how we would be marching up and down the road, (maybe even to St. Blaise, forbidden territory) how great military trucks would pull in to deliver our uniforms and maybe even GUNS, there was no shortage of candidates. Boys will do anything for guns......
And so they learned how to march. They marched on the gravel in running shoes. They sat in classrooms and learned how to field-strip two types of automatic weapon. (the Bren & Sten guns) They learned all about the lee enfield rifle. From a badly done chalk drawing. Not a real weapon in sight. Boys, who would begin to twitch and fidget after ten minutes of history or bookeeping gave rapt attention to an hour's worth of gun-talk. Why? Because they are boys....and they knew that those precious trucks full of stuff would surely arrive. Steve listened quietly as I finished my story. "so" he said. "I guess I'd better give this some thought. You're too young to be an officer but be patient and I'll figure something out." He was true to his word and I was named first CPO (acting) of RCSCC Fort Lennox. Years later, at the St. Jean reunion, Bill Reid, the first Midshipman ever, approached me during a quiet moment. "I know it must have been hard for you to be passed over by me." "Not at all," I said. "Thanks to Steve, I was exactly where I belonged. And so were you. You did us proud." Steve had a way of making things right. That was also the last conversation I had with Bill. While my relationship was based on mutual trust and respect, Steve and I were never "buddies" in any sense of the word. Since I came to Feller from a loving family there were no emotional scars that needed fixing. As a result, except for cadet business and , in my last year, head prefect of the brand new system, I was left pretty much on my own.
As a role model for young impressionable boys there was none better-suited. Poised, educated and unfailingly polite, the man carried with him a deft understanding of his fellow humans. I have seen him on and off campus and he was always the same. Just by being around him made us better people. My fondest memories of the man include a few trips in his beetle to a cafe in St. John where he treated me to a rum and coke with my hamburger. The time he arranged for a flight in a fighter jet on Navy Day in Halifax. The evenings in Montreal spent trying to script a musical review for Cafe Andre. And, at my father's funeral five years after my leaving Feller he appears as if by magic. Dressed in blazer, striped tie and shiny shoes. And as we all stood around in the smoking room of the funeral home he told us a funny story of his own father's funeral. And brought me comfort. It is a moment that I still cherish to this day......
Last night I heard he had died in Ottawa just a few years ago. It saddened me to think that I had made no effort to stay in contact after school. I remember visiting him at the place he started just down the road from Feller with it's ever-bubbling pot of stew on the stove. But beyond that...nothing, I will miss him. He gave me much and asked nothing, ever, in return."
Bruce Hannah, 1958-1961
February 16 2004