County loses a friend in Kenny May

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The people of Pike County have lost a good friend.

Even though Kenny May was fighting a courageous battle with cancer, his death on Saturday was unexpected and cloaked in sadness by all who knew him.

“Kenny cared about the community and about his family,” said Terry Hassett. “He loved his family and he raised two fine sons. What more can you say about a man than that?”

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Hassett knew May as a friend and as a community servant.

They canoed the rivers together and worked together for the good of the community as members of the Exchange Club.

“I never heard Kenny say a bad thing about anybody,” Hassett said. “He was an honest guy that always did what he said he would do. He was a good friend and a good man.”

Donna McLaney, assistant to May’s wife, Kim, director of the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center, said no one was more dedicated to serving others, especially the downtrodden, than Kenny May.

“People don’t know all that Kenny did for the Salvation Army in an effort to help people in need,” McLaney said. “During the Red Kettle campaign, he took charge. If a bell ringer didn’t show up, Kenny filled in. He collected all the kettle money in Troy, Luverne and Eufaula and deposited it in the bank.”

McLaney said May was always the go-to guy when anything was need.

“He helped with the camp stew sales and the Empty Bowls fundraisers, from selling tickets to set up and clean up. Whatever needed to be done, Kenny was willing. He was always jovial and always had a story to tell. He loved people and had a big, giving heart. He will be greatly missed.”

May was known locally for his quick laugher, his big heart and his generous spirit.

But he had achieved national recognition for a his “branch-head spirits.”

May was a Bullock County boy who became well known in agricultural circles, primarily the grass seed business. But, as May often said, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

He inherited his dad’s talent for making moonshine whiskey. He made and bottled a whiskey, Conecuh Ridge, made from Clyde May’s recipe that was to be his dad’s legacy.

In 2000, May was featured on the top fold of the Wall Street Journal. In 2003, NBC Nightly News did a piece on May’s Conecuh Ridge. In 2004, the Alabama State Legislature passed a resolution to name Conecuh Ridge the “Official Spirit of Alabama.”

May’s hopes and dreams to leave a legacy for his dad and the way of life for a lot of people on “the ridge” fell short but May never lost sight of his desire to pay tribute to his dad.

Jimmy Messick recently followed May as president of the local Woodman of the World organization. He, too, knew first hand of May’s service to the “world.”

“Kenny’s biggest work was done behind the scenes because it wasn’t important to him that people knew,” Messick said. “That’s the kind of man he was and that’s the kind of man that makes a difference in the world. That’s Kenny May’s legacy.