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Bill and Barbara May

Bill and  Barbara May
Bill and Barbara May

By Albert Raboteau and Rich Polikoff, Advancement Division

If Cadet Karl Krull ’19 chooses to pursue law school, he can get valuable advice from Bill May ’64, who spent 21 years as general counsel for Beckman Coulter Inc., a medical-diagnostics and life-sciences instrumentation company with $4 billion annual revenue and 10,000 employees worldwide.

Even if Krull chooses a different career, he has a stronger start on it thanks to May’s role in his life. Without the William H. May ’64 and Barbara J. May Endowed Scholarship, Krull could not have interned on Capitol Hill this spring.

“I’m an out-of-state student, and it’s more expensive,” said the native of Western Spring, Illinois. “If not for this scholarship, there would be no way for me to participate in special programs like a Washington semester.”

May also came to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets from out of state. A Baltimore-area native, he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, rose to captain of Squadron A, was a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, and as a senior was treasurer of the Cotillion Club.

After graduating, May served as a captain in the Air Force Systems Command. He met his wife of 47 years while stationed in California working in research and development on the Minuteman Missile program. After leaving the military, May earned a law degree from the University of Virginia, worked a few years as a patent attorney, and then joined Beckman, where he spent the rest of his career. By age 41, he was a senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for the company.

Karl Krull ’19

Karl Krull ’19
Karl Krull ’19

“Even though I did not become a career engineer, Beckman was a scientific company,” said May, who lives in Villa Park, California. “So the fact that I had a scientific background from Virginia Tech was very important.”

Within his community, May shows the same spirit of generosity that leads him to give back to Virginia Tech. He was vice chairman of the San Diego Zoo board and a member of the Santa Ana School Board. 

He presently is on the Boys Latin School of Maryland board and is chairman of the board for the $600 million Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which supports young scientists doing leading-edge research.

May said a 25th reunion was actually his first time back on Virginia Tech’s campus in two decades, but “seeing friends again 25 years later, we just picked up like it was yesterday.”

Since then, he and his wife — members of the Ut Prosim Society of donors — have returned many times. They hold football season tickets and in fact own a townhome in Blacksburg.

“The academic programs, the Corps of Cadets, and the heartbeat of Virginia Tech just make me feel good,” May said. “I appreciate it even more now that I’m older.”

For the Corps and the many cadets the Mays have helped through their scholarship, the appreciation is certainly mutual.