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Denton Brake May

1926 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Denton Brake May Obituary
Moving On: Advance Copy

Denton May, a resident of the Cortez, Colorado area since 1995, was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1926 to Gordon and Leta (Anderson) May. He died April 12, 2018 at the age of 91.

Denton graduated from high school in January 1945 and was immediately drafted into the U.S. Navy where he served until June 1946. As a veteran of the G.I. Bill, in 1947 he enrolled at Utah State University, where he met his wife, LaFawn Humpherys. In 1949 they moved from Logan, Utah to Berkeley, California, to enable LaFawn to complete a residency in Dietetics at Stanford University Hospital, at the time located in San Francisco. Denton continued his studies at the University of California, Berkeley (B.A. 1951).

With LaFawn and their infant son, Douglas, he began a 42-year hike through the scattered groves of academe, 40 of those years as a teacher and administrator in a variety of colleges and universities, prefaced by a baptismal sojourn at the junior high level. This varied academic employment included sequential stops at the University of Michigan (M.A. 1954), colleges and universities in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, the University of Denver (Ph.D. 1972), Loretta Heights College in Denver, Colorado, Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, PA., as the Academic Dean, and finally, St. Thomas Aquinas College at Sparkill, N.Y. as the Academic Dean and Professor of English. Denton retired from St. Thomas in 1994 as Professor Emeritus.

In 1995 he and LaFawn settled in the Cortez area. In that same year Denton opened a used bookstore, Prairie Dog Hardback, on Hwy 145, where for 16 years he enjoyed discussing books with his customers. He took particular pleasure in steering grade school and high school students to books that could broaden their knowledge. For preschoolers he kept a trove of children's books as gifts for them.

Besides his laid-back tending of the bookstore, Denton also took pleasure in entering public forums to joust against the dark knights of prejudice and superstition. His liberalism was manifest in the various memberships he maintained: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Habitat for Humanity, Union of Concerned Scientists, Doctors Without Borders. He also subscribed to The League of Women Voters, The Cortez Cultural Center, Great Decisions, and The Center for Mark Twain Studies, at Elmira College, N.Y.

Denton was preceded in death by LaFawn, his wife of 62 years, his son Gordon, his daughter Janet, his mother and father, brothers Ron and Jack, his sisters Ruth and Helen. He is survived by his son Douglas (Dolores, CO), his daughter-in-law Julie McDermott May (Elizabeth, CO), sister-in-law Virginia May (Petoskey, Michigan) three grandchildren-Dylan, Alec, and Alyssa, and two great grandchildren - Jaylyn and Skylar, (all of them of Prescott Valley, AZ) A large retinue of nieces and nephews, in-laws, and a smattering of outlaws, rounds out the procession of familial mourners.

Denton has opted for cremation without any service. He carries with him into the realm of death two comforting observations (both by Shakespeare) regarding life's final passage: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."(Prospero in The Tempest); "The undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns." (Hamlet, speculating on the next life). Denton views the possibility of a reunion with his departed loved ones as more a fervent hope that a guaranteed certainty. Meanwhile, Denton bids his family and friends good afternoon.

Arrangements are being made through Ertel Funeral Home. To send condolences or to view the full obituary, log on to www.ertelfuneralhome.com and click on the obituary section.
Published in The Journal on Apr. 20, 2018
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