, Salem, MA

February 25, 2013

Marguerite Whitley May, 93

Boxford — Marguerite Elaine Whitley May, 93, a longtime resident of Boxford, died on February 15 after a brief illness. Ms. May was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 13, 1919, toward the end of the Spanish flu epidemic. She attended public schools and was an honor student in Phoenix Union High School’s Class of 1937. She served the U.S. in World War II as a staff sergeant in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

Ms. May lived the last 50-plus years of her life in Topsfield and Boxford. She never adapted to the snow, the humidity, or the Boston accent, but forged deep ties with her New England neighbors and friends.

A lifelong writer of humorous essays and light verse, Ms. May’s work appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and other publications. She also worked as a freelance typist, and as a secretary at a Boston engineering firm. In retirement, she read and clipped newspapers and magazines, haunted the Boxford library, and developed a crossword puzzle habit that she called her “link to sanity.” In 1995 she began a satisfying late-life career as a columnist for the Tri-Town Transcript and later the Village Reporter.

Ms. May broke her hip and moved to a nursing home in 2011, where she continued to work crossword puzzles, and (very much out of character) attended a daily exercise class. She loved reading her poems and columns, perusing old photos, and eating Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Marguerite Whitley May was predeceased by her husband, Kenneth Dale May; her parents; and her brothers, Morse Edison Whitley, Jr. and Dwight Milton Whitley. She leaves daughter Whitley May Daly of Groveland, MA; son Kenneth Dwight May and his wife Valerie Corbin-May of Brockton; and daughter Melanie May and her husband Barry D. Nusbaum of Brookline; as well as 12 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and a recent great-great grandchild. She also leaves two nieces, two nephews, and three cousins.

ARRANGEMENTS: A service celebrating Marge May’s life will be held on Sunday, March 3, 2013, at 2 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 124 River Road, Topsfield, MA. Friends and relatives invited. Assisting the family with arrangements is the Peterson-O’Donnell Funeral Home, 167 Maple St. (Rte. 62), Danvers. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Boxford Town Library (please write “memorial fund, Marge May” on the memo line), 10 Elm Street, Boxford, MA 01921. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit