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May, Kenneth Alton (1929–1989)

Jeanne F. Lively Biography Entry

Kenneth Alton May, newspaper editor and civic leader, was born in Farmersville, Texas, on August 4, 1929, one of two sons of Jesse and Myrtle (Haney) May. Soon after receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in 1949, he went to work for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. He rose from general-assignments reporter to regional editor to special-assignments writer, thence to public-affairs editor, columnist, and associate editor. He wrote the column "One Man's Opinion," which appeared on the op-ed page. May compiled an impressive list of writing awards from the Associated Press, Associated Press Managing Editors Association, United Press International, and state and national headliners' competitions. These awards were granted for a full spectrum of writing, including news, sports, education, community service, and public affairs. In 1964 May was elected president of the Texas Association of Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism society.

Projects and programs in which he was involved included the Lubbock State School, Goodwill Industries of Lubbock, various highway construction programs, and promotional programs for Lubbock. He was vice president of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce from 1984 to 1986. He was also charter secretary of Goodwill Industries, charter president of the Food and Fiber National Institute of Achievement, and president of the Lubbock County Society for Crippled Children. May was chairman of the Lubbock Bicentennial and Sesquicentennial committees; director of Civic Lubbock; director of the Municipal Auditorium-Coliseum Board; director of the Lubbock Housing Authority; and member of the Highways, Streets, and Roads Committee of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. He served as a member of the public task force to the Governor's Advisory Committee on the Texas Plan to Combat Mental Retardation. He helped develop plans to establish the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation through the merger of agencies and supported efforts to establish regional MHMR centers. He served as chairman of the Lubbock regional center once it was established. A North Texas State University regent from 1973 to 1979, May was named an outstanding alumnus by the North Texas State University Alumni Association in 1978. He was a director of the Texas Tech Medical Foundation and a member of the advisory committee of the Lubbock Christian University Students in Free Enterprise program.

In 1949 May married Lou Beckham, and the couple moved to Lubbock. They had three children. May was a Baptist. He died on July 3, 1989, of cancer and was entombed at Resthaven Memorial Park, Lubbock. A Kenneth May Journalism Foundation was established to provide scholarships for local high school students pursuing careers in journalism.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, July 4, 5, 1989. Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University.


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jeanne F. Lively, “May, Kenneth Alton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 25, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.