Longtime Pensions Advocate Robert May Dies May 24 'Peacefully Surrounded by Family'

Robert "Bob" May, a former actuary member of the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems through his more than 50-year career as a principal actuary at Rudd and Wisdom Inc., died May 24, 2022. 

He died "peacefully surrounded by family," according to his obituary published in The Statesman. The obituary did not reveal the cause of his death. He was 83 years old.

A Dedicated Pensions Professional

"As a pension professional, Bob May understands pensions almost more than anyone else in his profession," Max Patterson, a Texas Pension Consultant at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, an Associate Advisor member of TEXPERS, said in an email to TEXPERS.

Patterson, who formerly served as TEXPERS' executive director, added that May was a strong supporter of the association while working as an actuary and continued to do so after he retired. May supported TEXPERS from its inception and worked with public pension plan clients as an actuary with Rudd and Wisdom. He often served as a speaker at TEXPERS conferences. 

"Not only did he understand pensions, but Bob understood the politics that went along with public pensions," Patterson said. "He will be missed."

According to a letter issued on behalf of the principals and employees of Rudd and Wisdom, May had an extensive background in public pension actuarial service. 

He served on the Public Plans Community Steering Committee of the national Conference of Consulting Actuaries for many years. The committee provided a forum for public plan actuaries to discuss crucial public plan issues. At the CCA's annual meeting, it provided input to the CCA's continuing education track for public pensions. 

Among May's Texas public pension clients were state retirement funds, multiemployer plans for public employees, municipal employee pension plans, and law enforcement and firefighter retirement plans. May was the founding actuary for the Austin Police Retirement System and helped create the fund as a separate retirement plan, according to Rudd and Wisdom's letter. 

May also frequently testified before committees and subcommittees of the Texas Legislature, sharing his opinions and expertise on pension plan legislation. He often attended Pension Review Board meetings and commented during open testimony on matters important to public pension plans. 

He was a mentor to Mark Fenlaw, a principal at Rudd and Wisdom. The two worked together on public pension plan clients for many years.

"I appreciate the influences he has had on my life and even more on the public employee retirement systems in the state of Texas," Fenlaw said in an email to TEXPERS.

During his later years, the Texas governor appointed May to serve on the Texas Pension Review Board, the state agency mandated to oversee public retirement systems at the state and local levels regarding their actuarial soundness and compliance with state reporting requirements. May served on the board from 2015 to 2019.  

"We will miss Bob and his statesmanship and commitment to the actuarial profession and his contributions to public employee retirement systems in the state of Texas," according to a statement released by the principals and employees of Rudd and Wisdom. 

His Personal Life

According to his obituary, May was born in Waxahachie, Texas, and later moved to Dallas with his parents and siblings. He attended Highland Park High School and played football on a state championship team in the Cotton Bowl. 

He graduated high school in 1957 and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics. While attending the university, he decided to enter the actuarial profession, a complex field that measures and calculates risk. 

He started his career as a trainee with Southwestern Life Insurance Co. in Dallas. In 1956, May moved to Austin, where Rudd and Wisdom hired him as a consulting actuary. 

According to his family, May supported his alma mater, UT. He was especially attached to his church, Shepherd of the Hills Christian Church.

"He enjoyed helping his children, grandchildren, and friends with their educational and occupational endeavors," his family wrote in his obituary. "He enjoyed attending his grandchildren's sporting events, boating on Lake Austin with his family, traveling abroad and learning the history of other countries, camping, and skiing. One of his greatest loves was his dogs. Bob also cherished spending time with his cousins and extended family at his family farm in Gunter, Texas."

According to his obituary, May leaves behind his wife, Jeanne May; his children, Scott May, David May, and Cathy Thomas; their mother, Catherine Daniell; and Jeanne's children, Jacquin Matthews, Beth Yanke, and Will Prewitt. May is the grandfather of 18 grandchildren.

Memorial Service and Contributions

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 9, 2022, at Shephard of the Hills Christian Church, located at 6909 West Courtyard Dr. in Austin, Texas.

The family is suggesting anyone wishing to make a memorial contribution do so to Shephard of the Hills Christian Church or to the charity of their choice.


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