GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The University of North Dakota Athletics Department mourns the passing of UND alum and legendary men’s hockey coach Dr. Robert May, who passed away to Pulmonary Fibrosis on Sunday morning. He was 87.
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. May went 45-17-2 in his two seasons behind UND’s bench and guided the program to the national championship game both years.
He 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. His contributions truly make him a builder of the success, history and tradition of our program,” said current UND head coach Dave Hakstol. “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 (MGHCA) Hall of Fame (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 National Hockey League’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 Dr. Zach Eakman, May’s grandson, in an email Monday morning to UND Athletics. “My grandpa (‘papa,’ as I call him) wore his championship ring from the day he got it until the day he passed.”
UND Athletics would like to extend its deepest sympathies to Dr. May’s family and friends.