Legendary North Dakota coach Dr. Robert May passed away Sunday, July 20, at the age of 87 due to pulmonary fibrosis.
May coached North Dakota during the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons and in his second season, led the Fighting Sioux to the first NCAA championship in program history. he went 45-17-2 in his two seasons behind UND’s bench and guided the program to the national championship game both years.
May also played at UND during the 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons, appearing in 47 games as a defenseman and serving as team captain in his final season. May received his bachelor’s degree from UND in 1951.
“As both a player and coach, Bob May had a major impact on the University of North Dakota hockey program,” current UND coach Dave Hakstol said in a statement. “His contributions truly make him a builder of the success, history and tradition of our program. Beyond hockey, he was highly respected in both his career in dentistry, as well as a tremendous family man. He will be greatly missed.”
May is a dual inductee into the UND Letterwinners Association Hall of Fame, having been recognized in 1981 as an individual and in 2002 with his national championship team. He is also a charter member of the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame and was inducted in 2013.
A colonel in the United States Army, May was a devoted husband for 64 years, grandfather and great-grandfather. He also served a stint as team dentist for the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars, authored four books and invented the first custom-fit mouthpiece. His coaching career also included high school stints in Minnesota at Minneapolis Roosevelt (boys) and Wayzata (girls).
“More than anything, he was a member of UND and carried relationships with many former players and coaches,” said May’s grandson, Dr. Zach Eakman, in an email to the UND athletics department Monday morning. “My grandpa (‘papa,’ as I call him) wore his championship ring from the day he got it until the day he passed.”
No funeral arrangements were announced in the North Dakota press release.