Wallace “Wally” May was known as the “Brownie Man” among nurses in Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s second floor medical unit.
He silently kept them in line, fixed wheelchairs for them and frequently brought them goodies.
“Wally was an inspiration,” said Barb Harris, LMH personal care assistant. “He was a good friend.”
The decade-long hospital volunteer was hit and killed by a driver Tuesday morning in northern Lawrence, leaving a void among hospital workers.
“He did work in so many different areas, crossed so many boundaries and (was) involved on so many different levels,” said Allyson Leland, director of volunteer services. “People are in shock, people don’t quite believe that this has happened.”
May, 80, didn’t just hang out with the nurses.
He volunteered nearly 1,000 hours a year and was actively involved in creating the volunteer program for the medical unit and the hospital’s oncology unit. He helped train other volunteers in both, Leland said.
Previously, May was a longtime associate dean for Kansas University Continuing Education. He worked at the university from June 1970 until February 1991.
Former colleagues said he was one of the first to bring desktop publishing and other technology to the university.
“He was intellectually curious and interested in things, and you could just see that that’s kind of how he played out his life,” said Steve Bunch, a department director who worked under May.
May was also instrumental in landing a major Environmental Protection Agency grant for an asbestos removal training program that was taken to areas all over the country, Bunch said.
May died after being struck by a car while he was walking down a sidewalk. Leland said he was likely “doing his morning constitutional,” which included walking to the hospital to work out, at the time of the accident. It happened in the 200 block of North Michigan Street, just blocks from the hospital.
Michael Peng, 22, of Lawrence, was driving a car out of a private driveway when he hit May, police said. Police haven’t released the cause of the accident, which they say remains under investigation.
Services for May haven’t been announced.