Dr. Michael William May, Ellicott City pediatrician, dies

Dr. Michael William May was a founding partner of Howard County Pediatrics.

Dr. Michael William May, one of the founding partners of Howard County Pediatrics and a physician known for his endearing manner with children, died of injuries from a Clarksville car crash at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Sept. 10. He was 62 and lived in Columbia.

“He was a man of few words, but he was committed to service and volunteerism,” said his sister, Mary Fairchok of Puyallup, Washington.


Born in Milwaukee, he was the son of Dr. William May, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, and his wife, Patricia Keck, who had a doctorate in nursing.

He was a 1977 graduate of Saint Anselm’s Abbey School and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Catholic University. He was a 1985 graduate of the Georgetown University School of Medicine.


During his summers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, he worked as a lab researcher on infectious diseases. Working with senior scientists, he studied herpes.

“He cared about everyone and was interested in them as well. He was a wonderful listener,” said Dr. Paul Nyirjesy, a friend from their high school and medical school days. “When he interacted with patients he was thorough. As a medical student, he was a fast learner and had a lot of common sense. He was well-read and gave the best possible patient care.”

He then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University in its Harriet Lane program.

While at Hopkins, he met his future wife, Monica Thomas, a pediatric emergency room nurse.

Dr. May completed a fellowship in adolescent medicine and then joined Howard County Pediatrics as a founding member in 1989.

Dr. May had been the assistant chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Howard County General Hospital.

In a 1992 Sun article, he discussed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome after a national medical group recommended that parents put most infants to sleep on their backs or sides.

Dr. May said the older practice of having babies sleep on their stomachs was thought to reduce the risk of choking when the child spits up. He was among those who recommended the change.


“His bedside manner was gentle. To children, he was endearing. He took time for the patient as well for for the parent,” said Dawn Doctor, the clinical supervisor in his practice. “I knew him for 22 years. He was steady. He was constant. He was a man of few words but when he did have things to say he was deliberate. And there was substance with what he had to say.”

She said Dr. May had a dry sense of humor and it was not unusual for him to open the practice if a patient needed to be seen on a Sunday.

“When dealing in pediatrics, parents need peace of mind and he was able to deliver that,” she said. “He was in there at the office first thing in the morning, before sunup.

He worked as a general pediatrician and saw thousands of patients and consulted with their parents.

“He had a calm personality and took his time to think about things,” said Genevieve McCardell, the mother of three patients who made visits to his office for 32 years. “His recommendations were helpful. He was quiet in a sense and focused on providing good care but he also had a bright sense of humor. He was methodical and spent the time with us.”

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She also said: “He also suggested other resources — he saw the whole child as opposed to treating just an illness. I always felt confident that all three of my children were getting the proper care. He was also respectful of my questions. He was never dismissive.”


“He never looked down on you as a parent,” she said. “He treated me as a team with him.”

Dr. May retired this year and wrote to his patients: “I have been blessed to be entrusted with the care of so many newborns and children over the decades. It has been a true joy to watch so many grow and mature as students and now young adults, pursuing their goals and ambitions in the work force. It is even more gratifying to take care of so many of the next generation, as my first patients have now become parents themselves.”

Dr. May was an avid runner, reader of history and community volunteer. He spent many hours working with homeless people.

A memorial has been created in Dr. May’s name at the Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System.

He was an active member of St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Clarksville, where a memorial Mass will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 21.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Monica Thomas, a pediatric emergency room nurse; a son, Christopher May of Ellicott City; a daughter, Elizabeth Feeley of Ellicott City; three brothers, Thomas May of Seattle, Timothy May of Silver Spring and Patrick May of Rockville; three sisters, Mary Fairchok of Puyallup, Washington, Susan Romanosky of New York City and Kathleen May-Boardman of Edinburgh, Scotland; and 14 nieces and nephews.