Sadly, Dr. Bill B. May, who began the NewsBalance website in 2001, has passed away. The website included articles where the intent was to show both sides of an issue or concept. Bill also wrote a daily op-ed piece with his perspective on a current event or item of interest. While many contributed to the website over the years, Bill was pretty much the sole editor and producer of the site. Because of that, the site will not continue to run after this final edition. Below is Bill’s obituary, which gives some details of the life he lived. It was a good life for sure.
Dr. Bill B. May
September 2, 1935 – June 6, 2016
Los Altos Hills
Bill Bruce May, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away peacefully at age 80 on June 6th, 2016, with his family at his side. He was born in Sturgis, South Dakota to parents John and Weltha May, and grew up on a ranch outside Sturgis, near Mount Rushmore. As a farm kid, he attended a one-room rural schoolhouse with one teacher and about 12 kids representing all grades below high school. At Sturgis High School, Bill met his wife to be Marka, and they began a journey together spanning over 60 years. Bill was a very driven man, with honesty and integrity his cornerstone values.
Bill excelled in the sciences, so his college life began at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota. After earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering, Bill was accepted for doctorate engineering work at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Bill and Marka had never been to California, and they were excited to start this new chapter of their life. They, along with their toddler son, moved out to California in 1958, and settled into the beautiful area of Los Altos. As the family grew, so did their need for a larger house. Los Altos Hills became their new home, and Bill and Marka proceeded to spend the next 45 years there. They made many friends in “The Hills”, and never had a desire to move away. They downsized only recently from their dream home to “The Vi” in Palo Alto.
Bill completed his doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1964, and started working with a group of engineers at Stanford Electronics Laboratory. The group was primarily focused on systems work and signal processing. Some of the contracts keeping them busy were government studies in radar and signal analysis. Student led Vietnam War protests around the country caused Stanford to discontinue government funded defense work at the University in 1969. Although disappointing, this turn of events was the impetus for a small group to start a new company called ArgoSystems, at a time when Silicon Valley was just taking shape.
The founders of ArgoSystems included eight people, who chose Bill as their President. The company immediately prospered, as they designed and built reconnaissance systems of various applications and platforms for the United States and our Allies. ArgoSystems grew to over 1350 employees and had annual sales in their peak years of over $100 million. The employees were proud that the systems they built were instrumental in keeping our country safe, and none more than Bill, who was very patriotic by nature. Bill was instrumental in bringing the company public, and ArgoSystems was subsequently bought by The Boeing Corporation in 1987. Bill stayed on with Boeing as a Vice President for several years and then retired for a somewhat slower lifestyle. Bill is an honored member of the National Academy of Engineering, and holds many honors and awards from SDSM&T including the Guy March Award. Bill served on the SDSM&T Foundation board for 24 years, 6 as chairperson.
Bill was extremely busy running the company, but he always put his family first. He was active in the Los Altos Hills Little League (back when the fields were dirt, rocks, and weeds) and attended the vast majority of the various basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, ice and roller hockey games that his kids and grandkids were playing in! Helping the kids and grandkids with homework became almost a full-time job, but he enjoyed that. Bill was also an avid sports fan, who loved his Stanford teams, the Sharks, Forty-niners, and Giants (he’d also root for the Raiders and A’s in a pinch).
Bill spent his time in retirement serving on several corporate boards, and then creating his own news website called NewsBalance. Despite the name, the website’s political commentary is bent slightly to the conservative side – actually maybe more than slightly. He and Marka were very involved with the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose – Bill serving as a board member for 24 years. His most cherished hobbies were snow skiing, travelling, hiking, and flying his single-engine Piper Malibu airplane. Marka and Bill travelled to a great many places with Bill as pilot, most often Lake Tahoe, where they had their vacation home. They saw the world too, taking many, many trips over the years either for business or pleasure. They would take the entire family on vacation nearly every year as well, travelling to places like the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, or back to their home state of South Dakota. With all of his success and travels, Bill never forgot his ranching roots and one-room schoolhouse beginning.
Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years Marka, his sons Mike, Bob, Jim, and daughter Mary Jo Hartshorn. Daughters in-law Romana May and Rosie May, and grandchildren Nick, Danielle, Chris, Thomas, Brooklin, Matt, Kyle, and Kelly.
Bill will be dearly missed by his family and friends. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the Tech Museum of San Jose or the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Foundation. Memorial Services held privately. A celebration of his life is being planned for mid-summer.