Scott Weisbenner Death, Obituary – On Monday, Mike May, who served as city attorney for Madison for a very long time, was recognized for his strong legal mind, profound love of family, fun sense of humor, and service to the city of Madison. His wife, Briony Foy, stated that May, 68, passed away early on Monday morning due to complications of pancreatitis.
When asked what it was that caused him to remain in the city in which he was born, Foy responded by citing “family, the people, the culture, the sports, and the law.” During his sickness, the amount of support that I have received from my family and friends, as well as the city and the legal community, has been incredible. She mentioned that one of his go-to catchphrases was “I love the law.”
According to his obituary, May never live more than 25 miles away from his childhood home. He was born at St. Mary’s Hospital. He spent his childhood in Monona, and from a very young age, he had the ambition to serve as a priest in the Roman Catholic church. In 1968, when he was only 14 years old, he moved away from his family home to attend Holy Name Seminary as a full-time student. In 1972, he led his high school class as valedictorian and was awarded a National Merit Scholarship, which he used toward his education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
May earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the university in 1975. After working for a year, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Law School, graduating cum laude in 1979. He was a member of both the Wisconsin Law Review and the Wisconsin Law Revue, a rag-tag group of law students that performed risqué skits.
His law career spanned 43 years. He was an associate, partner, and then managing partner at Boardman, Suhr, Curry, and Field. After 25 years in private practice, then-Mayor Dave Cieslewicz appointed May city attorney in 2004, a position to which he would be reappointed under mayors Paul Soglin and Rhodes-Conway. He retired from the city in 2020.
“Mike May combined a keen understanding of the law with a sense of fundamental fairness and decency,” Cieslewicz said. “He told me what I could and couldn’t do under the law, but he also had a way of letting me know what might be legal but unwise. He was universally respected by anyone who had contact with the city government.
“Most importantly for me, on a personal level, he was fun,” Cieslewicz said, recalling the time he joined the mayor and some friends at a Badgers basketball game wearing red-and-white striped overalls and a red beret.
“‘That’s our new city attorney,’ I told my friends,” Cieslewicz said. “‘Very distinguished legal scholar. Really.’” One of May’s most famous opinions concerned whether a proposed city sign rule might ban the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. “You know, I don’t know,” May said, effectively killing the proposal.
Tributes to Mike May
As a result of the announcement of Mike May’s passing being made public, his friends, family, and other people who were close to him are going through a period of intense grief. I don’t believe that life should be viewed as something terrifying. In my opinion, it’s very similar to getting a soothing massage after a long day at the office. In the end, you will have to pick yourself up and head back to work at some point. To sum it all up, that pretty much sums up life, death, and the economy.