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.
Humane Society of West Michigan
3077 Wilson Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Life Story / Obituary
As his family and friends can attest, Gerard May truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength and support for those around him, even in the most difficult of times. Jerry was well known for his solid work ethic, and he was always willing to go above and beyond to help others. He treasured his loved ones above all else. Deeply loved, Jerry will be forever missed by those who knew him best.
During the dark days of the Great Depression, countless American families felt the strain of the rising unemployment rate and a crippling drought throughout our nation’s homeland. Despite the trials around them, Walter and Wilhelmina (Hehl) May were filled with great joy as they welcomed the son they named Gerard "Jerry" into their hearts and home on February 9, 1933, in Coopersville, Michigan, during what was an incredibly cold winter. As the story goes, the tea kettle on the stove froze solid that year.
Growing up, Jerry was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was the oldest of six children and was raised alongside his siblings, Tom, Joanne, Marty, Ken, and Marge. Due to the Great Depression, the May family struggled financially throughout Jerry’s childhood. They moved to an apartment in Grand Rapids before Jerry’s brother, Ken, was born. Later on the family moved to the childhood home of Jerry’s father on Marion NW, across from Lincoln Park. The May boys were well known throughout their neighborhood and would spend hours at the park, running around or playing ball. Jerry and his brothers also had paper routes to help out the family and would often shovel snow for the neighbors in order to earn some extra money.
While pursuing his education, Jerry walked to grade school every day at St. Mary’s, where the family also attended church. He did not excel as a student, but he did well enough to get by. Later, Jerry attended and graduated from Catholic Central High School in 1951. Following his graduation, he began working for American Seating, where his father also worked. Jerry would go on to work there for 20 years before leaving early on in the 1970s.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Jerry as he met the woman who would quickly become the love of his life. Her name was Cathy Marlett, and at the time she was caring for her young son, Jason. The two felt an instant connection, and it didn’t take them long to fall deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Jerry and Cathy were married in the presence of family and friends at St. Mary’s Church. The couple were truly best friends and relied on each other when times got tough. Jerry was also very close with Cathy’s father, Ray Marlett, for several years.
In the mid 1970s, Jerry relocated to Colorado to be closer to Cathy and Jason. There, he supported himself by working for Pella. Once Jason was a bit older, Jerry returned to Grand Rapids and settled into his home on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids. He was never afraid to work hard in order to provide for himself and those he loved.
All those who knew Jerry can certainly agree that, of all the things he loved in life, he treasured his family and friends above all else. He enjoyed spending time with Jason whenever he could, and the two of them would often watch sports together. Jerry was also very close to his brothers, and he and Ken were inseparable. He liked to play golf with them and also attend Tigers games. Jerry was a bit of an introvert, but he could be very social with those in his circle. His favorite meals included meatloaf, meat and potatoes, and chili, but he hated peas. Jerry enjoyed reading Stephen King novels and solving crossword puzzles. He also liked all kinds of movies, especially suspense, mystery, Westerns, and anything with Clint Eastwood. Jerry stayed active by bowling on work leagues for several years. He had a sweet tooth and enjoyed eating treats every now and then. According to Jerry, there are two sides to every argument—his side and the wrong side. He was truly an old-school guy.
When reflecting on the life of Jerry May, it is easy to see his unwavering strength and unconditional love for his family. He was loyal to those he cared about and always reliable. A proud brother, father, and uncle, Jerry was overjoyed to watch his family tree grow to include many loved ones. He was known for the subtle humor that he shared with his brother, and they were the best of friends. Though he will be dearly missed, Jerry leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.
Jerry May, age 89 of Grand Rapids, passed away July 17, 2022. He was preceded in death by his wife, Cathy; brothers and sisters Tom (Marsha) May, Joanne (Bob) Harig, Marty May. Jerry is survived by his son, Jason Marlett; brother Ken May; sister, Marge Spencer; dear family friends Bobbi Evans (Tom) Truesdale; as well as several nieces and nephews. A service to remember and celebrate Jerry’s life will be held on Thursday, July 21 at 2 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends are invited to visit with his family beginning at 1 PM. In lieu of flowers, Jerry’s family requests memorial donations to the Humane Society of West Michigan. To read more about Jerry, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com