Ethel Arnette May was born August 29, 1931 to Mayshack Harris and Ethel (Irvin) Harris in Rosenberg, TX. The youngest of six children, Ethel overcame many childhood hardships and graduated with honors from A.W. Jackson High School with the desire to continue on to college.
Ethel attended and graduated from Prairie View A&M University in 1954. Upon graduation, she did “day’s work” to support herself and to help out her family. One of her clients, Ms. Evelyn Meyers felt that Ethel had outgrown Rosenberg and could garner better opportunities elsewhere. Ms. Meyers loaned Ethel the money to relocate to California.
When Ethel arrived in Los Angeles, she was able to stay with her cousins Mary & Dorothy and their families. She got a job as a dietitian at Los Angeles County USC hospital.
Ethel was able to pay Ms. Meyers back and buy her first house. She enrolled briefly at UCLA to earn an advanced degree but was sidelined by a near catastrophic illness. Reluctantly, she discontinued her studies and returned to working full time.
On September 1, 1959 Ethel married Roland May of Atchison, KS. They bought a home together in Los Angeles, where their son Marlin and daughter Vanessa were born. In 1969, the family moved to Lake View Terrace.
In 1970, she volunteered at the Pacoima Recreation Center on Herrick Street. By 1974 she was directing the Center’s senior citizen lunch program. In 1978, she became Executive Director of Pacoima Senior Citizens for United Concern. She served in this capacity until her retirement in 2001. Ethel was a faithful and diligent public servant. Via her good works, she enriched the lives of many elders and received numerous commendations from community leaders, activists, public officials, and politicians.
In her leisure time, Ethel enjoyed spending time with her family, visiting with friends, volunteering in the community, caring for her pets, bird watching, cheering on the LA Lakers, gardening, doing crafts, and reading about nature, current events and world affairs.
Ethel was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Roland and by four of her siblings. She is survived by her children Marlin (partner Ron) and Vanessa; a sister Cornelius Amy, and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, family, and friends.