[Marin County Obit Board]

Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 06:29:31 :

Marin Independent Journal
Friday, July 15, 1988

John May, foundation founder, dies

John R. May of San Rafael, a founder of the San Francisco Foundation, an architect of the Buck Trust and a national leader in philanthropy died, Wednesday, July 13, 1988, of heart failure at his summer cabin near Ketchum, Idaho.

Mr. May “may be the most important citizen in the history of the Bay Area,” said Robert M. Fisher, director of the San Francisco Foundation, referring to Mr. May’s work to raise and distribute millions of dollars.

Fisher said the impact of Mr. May’s26 years at the foundation “is inestimable” because the foundation “serves as a hotbed for stimulating the entire non-profit sector” and “American history demonstrates compellingly how most important social change originates from the non-profit sector.”

Mr. May, 79, helped establish the San Francisco Foundation in 1948 and was its director until retiring in 1974. The foundation began with less than $1 million but grew to become one of the largest community foundations in the country.

After leaving the San Francisco Foundation, Mr. May helped set up the Hewlett Foundation and was its director for several years. He also served for many years as a consultant to the Haas family’s Columbia Foundation in San Francisco, was a founder of the Northern California Grantmakers, a regional association of more than 90 corporate and private philanthropies, and served on the boards of directors of many charitable organizaions.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. May negotiated with Beryl Buck’s attorney, John Elliot Cook of Ross, the agreement that led to establishing the Buck Trust under the administration of the San Francisco Foundation.

The trust was transferred to the Marin Community Foundation in 1987 after the San Francisco Foundation lost its lawsuit to break Buck’s restriction that her trust exclusively benefit Marin.

The president of the Marin Community Foundation, Douglas X. Patino, said Mr. May “certainly was a very important leader in philanthropy and in the foundation community, and has made enormous contributions. In a sense, the history of the Marin Community Foundation is tied in to the work of John May.”

Mr. May was born in Denver. He had lived in Marin for more than 40 years. He and his wife, Jean B. May, lived in Sausalito before moving to San Rafael three years ago.

Mr. May graduated from Stanford University and served in the Office of Price Administration and Navy during World War II.

A memorial service will be announced.

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Marin Independent Journal
Friday, August 5, 1988

John R. May

A memorial service for John R. May of San Rafael will be at 4 p.m. Aug. 17 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Mr. May, a founder of the San Francisco Foundation and architect of the Buck Trust, died Wednesday, July 13, 1988 at his summer cabin near Ketchum, Idaho.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the John R. May Fund of the San Francisco Foundation, 685 Market St., Suite 910, San Francisco 94105.

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