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Dr. Orville E. May


Posted By: Errin Wilker
Date: 12/9/2016 at 12:42:28

Dr. Orville E. May, retired vice-president of the Coca-Cola Co. of Atlanta, Ga., is to be honored by the American Institute of Chemists.

Dr. May, a native of New Albin, will receive the institute's gold medal at its 45th annual meeting in Atlanta May 9 to 11.

Dr. May is being recognized for his achievements in his 40-year career in this field.

He was born to Mr. and Mrs. George B. May at New Albin in 1901, and his mother, Mrs. Frances May, is still living.

Dr. May received part of his undergraduate work at Loras College in Dubuque, and the University of Minnesota. He holds B.A, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from George Washington University, from which he received the alumni achievement award in 1962.

From 1923 to 1936 Dr. May was engaged in chemical research, chiefly in mold fermentation chemistry, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

He is credited with sharing in the development of the deep tank mold fermentation process which now forms the basis for the commercial production of penicillin and other antibiotics. This was accomplished while Dr. May was director of the Northern Regional Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture at Peoria, Ill.

The gold medal to be presented to Dr. May will be the 40th awarded by the American Institute of Chemists, which works to foster better public understanding of the role of the chemist and the chemical profession in our society.

Source: La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI, March 25, 1968. The photo (below) was published with this article.

Note: "Georgia Death Index, 1933-1998," database, FamilySearch.org:
Orville E. May died 04/04/1981 at Fulton, Cobb co. GA, age 79


Additional information:

Former New Albin Resident National Rubber Authority
If a large scale production of synthetic rubber from farm grains develops, a lot of the credit will belong to a quiet, determined Iowan names, Dr. Orville E. May. He has been a pioneer in the work of finding industrial uses for farm products over a period of 20 years. The conversion of butylene glycol to butadiene, from which synthetic rubber is made, is largely attributed to him. When the Regional Research Laboratory was established in Peoria, Ill., 5 years ago, May became its head. His work includes the conversion of farm products, such as soybean oil, and corn oil into its products now used as rubber substitutes and rubber extenders. May joined the department's scientific staff in 1923 and attracted attention by developing the use of soybean oil in paint. He organized the research program of the U.S. Regional Soybean Industrial Products Laboratory, of Urbana, Ill., where he served as director from 1936 to 1938. During that time the present practices for the use of soybeans in making plastics were worked out. No successor to the late Dr. Henry G. Knight, head of the Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering, has been named as of yet, but Mr. May, one time New Albin, Iowa, resident, is mentioned more than any other man for the position.
~from the Washington Roundup, a column conducted by Fred Bailey in the Country Gentleman, Nov. 1942 issue


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