Lee May Memorial Garden
Presentation of the Lee May Memorial Garden
Wife Lyn May will join personal friends in East Haddam at a private Memorial at St. Stephens on May 30th. Shortly after at 5:00 pm, the public is invited to the Senior Center for the presentation of the Lee May Memorial Garden created by East Haddam resident Harry Link. “It is to be a surprise for Mrs. May, so ‘mum’ is the word for those who are in personal contact with Mrs. May,” Harry explains. There are Memorial donation jars at Shagbark, Gelston House, 32 Main, Balleks Garden Center, Nathan Hale Pharmacy, Gristmill Market, Town Office Building and the Senior Center. A tax-deductible donation can be sent to the Lee May Memorial Garden Fund; in care of East Haddam Finance Department. Harry has created a website called Lee May Memorial Garden, which offers ample information about the Memorial Garden. We join Harry in extending hope for a large turnout on May 30th for this special event that is truly unique to East Haddam. Harry Link can be contacted for additional information at 860-873-9986 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Unique East Haddam Story To Be Shared
In the year 2001 a senior couple moved onto Beebe Road across the street from East Haddam resident, Harry Link. Eddie Lee May (known as Lee May) and his wife Lyn, relocated from Atlanta, Georgia to East Haddam because of their love of nature, rocks, and rural beauty. As a beginner gardener, Harry was delighted to learn that Lee was a passionate gardener with an affinity to aligning life’s experiences through the art of gardening. “It was amazing to observe Lee design his new yard starting with a blank slate” Harry relates. “There are no rules in gardening,” Lee would often say to Harry as they toiled together moving large rocks and working the landscape into a unique Japanese Garden.
Harry communicated to me, his 13 year relationship with Lee May and how Lee endlessly shared his wisdom as expressed in one of Lee’s many quotes, "All life's lessons grow in the garden: Birth, nurturing, love, heartbreak, success, joy and so many more." – Harry said his association and friendship with Lee was a life-changing experience as Lee offered guidance, support, and personal teaching.
As the Mays became entrenched in the heart of East Haddam they developed many relationships and served in several volunteer capacities. Known as kind, soulful, gentle and filled with good will, Lee was also very accomplished.
Born in Cuba, Alabama on April 15, 1941, Lee graduated Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Throughout his journalism career he won numerous awards including the National Conference of Christians and Jews’ Gold Medal Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award Grand Prize.
Lee spent 25 years as a journalist working for Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) and the Los Angeles Times. During his tenure with the Times, Lee covered the Reagan administration White House and became the Atlanta bureau chief in 1989. His wife, Lyn May, also accomplished as a former television journalist and communications director for the 1996 Olympic Games, said she believes he was the first African-American editorial writer for the newspaper.
Lee returned to the AJC in 1992 as the food and gardening columnist before moving to East Haddam in 2001. Lee wrote two books: “Gardening Life,” and “My Fathers Garden.” Both books are available on Amazon.
The Mays left East Haddam in the fall of 2013 and moved to Marietta Georgia to be closer to family. To the surprise and sadness of many, Eddie Lee May passed away December 3, 2014 due to cancer. The loss rang throughout the journalist and horticultural world.
Journalist Maria Saporta recalls, “Oh Lee May—a man of the earth who covered some of the hardest-hitting news stories of his day—and then spent his later years writing about and indulging in his passion of gardening.” She goes on to say, “Whenever anyone talked about Lee May, a warm glow and a smile inevitably followed. He was a soul with a kind heart and a contagious spirit of good will.” Bert Roughton, AJC managing editor says, “When he was writing about gardening, I always had the sense he was writing about ‘his’ sense of human harmony in a world that often seems anything but a well-tended and loved garden; He was teaching us.”
On his website, www.leemaysgardeninglife.com, you will read the gifted and heartfelt writings through his blog that will offer the reader a personal relationship with Lee, and a glimpse of why many who knew Lee personally, loved, respected and idolized his human spirit. Together, Lyn and Lee were considered to be a unique duo and incredible individuals. Lee is survived by three daughters, two stepdaughters, two sons-in-law and 12 grandchildren.
As I listened to Harry describe ‘his’ personal adventures with Lee, I watched his smile lift the mood of the moment as he shared his memories and gratitude for having the fortune of being a close personal friend; I understood clearly why Harry was personally motivated to build a Memorial at the East Haddam Senior Center. Harry explains, “Lee shared so much with so many, and all benefited by knowing him. I believe his unique spirit can continue to give to all the community, young and old, through a Memorial Garden where all can visit and enjoy.”
Harry continues, “Lee loved to teach and humbly offer his wisdom. A Memorial Garden will continue Lee’s selfless goodness, and it will allow those who have never known him personally to benefit greatly.”
As Harry delightedly held up his artwork plans for a beneficial and beautiful rain garden to be placed on the right side of the Senior Center building, he described Lee’s love for benches and beautiful, meaningful plantings. “Lee didn’t care about the technical names of plants and trees, he cared how his garden as a whole provided harmony and peace and how it related to the inner soul of all who visited his garden.” Harry continues, “Lee often said, “Gardening… well, gardening is life.” Harry expects this Memorial Garden will offer East Haddam residents an uplifting positive experience. Lee motivated Harry to become a Master Gardener in 2014. Harry explains, “I am a better person for having known him—and now, through his inspiration, I will incorporate as much of Lee’s style and spirit in this Memorial Garden to be shared by all.”
Certified Advanced Master Gardener, Certified Tree Warden