Helen May

March 14, 1929 - January 12, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI



Friday, January 15, 2016
11:00 AM EST
St. James Catholic Church
(616) 458-3065

Visitation will be held from 10-11 AM at church



At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Emmanuel Hospice
2161 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 719-0919
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


The life of Helen May included devotion to her Catholic faith and dedication to the family she held dear. Helen was a friend of many and enjoyed much throughout her life. She placed her priority in taking care of her family, and as they can attest, she did so exceedingly well. Although dearly missed, gone but never to be forgotten are the numerous memories she leaves behind.

By 1929, the infamous Roaring Twenties gave way to hard economic times from coast to coast. Just merely the beginning, the Great Depression was officially launched in a country that had seen much growth and prosperity. Despite these troubling times, William and Winifred Pfeifer of Detroit, Michigan found much to be thankful for when on March 14, 1929 they celebrated the birth of their little girl, Helen Mary.

Young Helen and her family soon moved to the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan where they made their home on the city’s southeast side in the Garfield Park area. As a family they attended St. Francis Xavier Parish where Helen grew in her faith. During her youth she learned to play the piano at the urging of her mother, and later she also gave piano lessons. Throughout her school days, Helen was a social young girl who enjoyed many friendships. Outgoing, she was well liked and easy to get along with.

Helen attended Marywood Academy through the 12th grade and went on to further her education at Davenport College. She attended Davenport for six months with a focus on secretarial studies. It was while attending Davenport when Helen met the handsome young man of her dreams, Jack May. The two began a dating relationship and three years later on August 12, 1950 they were happily joined in marriage at St. Francis Xavier. Together they enjoyed a memorable honeymoon in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Before long, Helen and Jack shared their lives with a family of their own with the births of three children, Patricia, John, and Richard. To accommodate their growing family, Helen and Jack moved to a home on Valley Avenue NW where they remained for the next 45 years of their lives together.

Helen made a good home for Jack and their children. Devoted in all she did, she knew her way around the kitchen and made many delicious meals for her family to enjoy. Many wonderful summer vacations were spent at Big Star Lake where they enjoyed a cottage rental each year. Through the years great times were shared there taking in all the area had to offer. They also enjoyed numerous holiday and birthday celebrations over the years which remain a treasure.

When her children were older Helen later took a job at Capitol Lumber working in the office before landing a position as a secretary for Pitsch Wrecking. In their free time together, Helen and Jack enjoyed golfing. They were regulars at Gracewil and Lincoln Country Clubs, and together they made lasting friendships with those around them. Helen especially loved playing on her Tuesday night golf league, the “Lincoln CC Swingers” at Lincoln Country Club.

In their retirement years, Helen and Jack enjoyed spending the cold Michigan winters in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama. They made and enjoyed many friends there, as well. Helen loved nothing more than relaxing enjoying one of her romance novels she loved reading and also donated her time to Meals on Wheels and the Santa Clause Girls. When Helen’s beloved Jack died on September 5, 2012, it took a toll on her but the love and support of family and friends saw her through.

Helen was a dedicated wife and nurturing mother who loved her grandchildren, and later, great-grandchildren deeply. She was always there for her family with an encouraging word, motherly advice, or with one of her lovable hugs. For those who knew Helen best, her love and devotion will be remembered most as she is sorely missed and fondly remembered in the hearts of many.

Helen M. May aged 86, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jack in 2012. Helen is survived by her children, Patricia (fiancé John Whitcomb), John (Jan) May and Richard (Kristy) May; grandchildren, Rochelle (Tim) Thue, Ralph Slocum III, Christine (Mario) Rodriguez, Kellie (Phil) Cosens, Lisa Pletcher, and Stacy (Ben) VanderMolen; several great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Lorraine May; nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM on Friday, January 15, 2016 at St. James Catholic Church, 733 Bridge Street NW where her family will receive visitors for one hour prior to the Mass at church. Contributions in her memory may be made to Emmanuel Hospice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory and photo of Helen and to sign her guest book online.