ForeverMissed

John Molteno Mays took flight for Olympus on August 15, 2011, joining Luisa Bibiana Noriega Mays (1931-2003).

We invite friends and colleagues to create their own login, then leave a short "tribute" below, or propose a longer "story", for the pleasure and remembrance of all.

We hope you enjoy the goodies we have begun to place on the site. With your help we will continue. Sign up for a "reminder and update" to learn when more elements appear about John's and Bibi's life and loves.

Chris and Claire, Victoire and Valentine

 

 

Posted by Claire & Chris Mays on March 11, 2017
John & Bibi's house in Malibu is rented out to a very nice couple who love the home as it deserves. Thinking back to when a potential tenant told us that there were spirits in the house, especially concentrated in the kitchen! This sounded quite on-target.
Posted by Robert Shulman on March 14, 2014
When John and I were students of Charles Townes in the late 1940's he was corresponding with the Consumers Protection Agencyof NYC about the repeated violations he had been finding of their regulation that awnings had to be at least 6' 4" high, since he had been bumping his head on Broadway. He continued throughout his life to be aware of the personal embedded in the general and appreciative of the general reflected in the personal. In this way he helped us appreciate how he, and we, are more interesting, and more lovable, than cats and parrots
Posted by Claire & Chris Mays on March 11, 2014
Ninety one years ago at "the Birthplace", 62nd and Lexington! "The Guv" (as he thought we should call him instead of Father or Daddy or something) was always very impressed by the thought that this Manhattan address should have benefitted from hosting the homebirth assured by Monica Celia Molteno Mays.
Thinking today also of a date back in the 1980's when John announced to me that it was the 100th birthday of his own father, John Glascock (Glazy) Mays.
Love--
Posted by Brenda & Sandy Green on November 1, 2011
"Let us be grateful to people who have made us happy...they are the charming gardeners who make our soles blossom" (Marcel Proust)
We are sure both Bibi and John, being such readers and Francophiles, would appreciate this qoute. They have enriched our lives.
Posted by Joachim Van Den Hurk on October 8, 2011
Having tasted lot of times very nice wines in Paris on John's valuable advices he was also that man who was watching me through his binoculars when I swam in the Pacific......Extraordinaire
Posted by Arthur Melmed on September 22, 2011
Coming over the curtain, the sound of a woman speaking in a foreign language continued without letup, as John and I talked. Looking up over the curtain, he interrupted briefly to say, "like water lapping on the beach". John had a talent for words.
Posted by Lawrence Frase on September 21, 2011
I remember John’s generosity, intelligence, literary acumen, and wit. I was honored to live with John and Bibi for a time and later enjoyed Internet contact--and his zingers to the media. I’ll miss those zingers.
Posted by DAvid Robinson on September 18, 2011
John and Bibi were an extraordinary couple, full of individuality, but with their trancending love overcoming all differences. John was an unsung hero of thoughtful science educaiton reform, recognizing outstanding thinkers.  Bibi was a clear thinker and a wonderful hnostess
Posted by Rosemary Clark on September 17, 2011
John was a most impressive man, handsome, intelligent, personable and a caring husband to Bibi, my schoolmate. His generosity enabled me and my husband to meet Claire, Marc, Valentine and Victoire in Paris which we very much enjoyed. We are grateful to have known him.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Claire & Chris Mays on March 11, 2017
John & Bibi's house in Malibu is rented out to a very nice couple who love the home as it deserves. Thinking back to when a potential tenant told us that there were spirits in the house, especially concentrated in the kitchen! This sounded quite on-target.
Posted by Robert Shulman on March 14, 2014
When John and I were students of Charles Townes in the late 1940's he was corresponding with the Consumers Protection Agencyof NYC about the repeated violations he had been finding of their regulation that awnings had to be at least 6' 4" high, since he had been bumping his head on Broadway. He continued throughout his life to be aware of the personal embedded in the general and appreciative of the general reflected in the personal. In this way he helped us appreciate how he, and we, are more interesting, and more lovable, than cats and parrots
Posted by Claire & Chris Mays on March 11, 2014
Ninety one years ago at "the Birthplace", 62nd and Lexington! "The Guv" (as he thought we should call him instead of Father or Daddy or something) was always very impressed by the thought that this Manhattan address should have benefitted from hosting the homebirth assured by Monica Celia Molteno Mays.
Thinking today also of a date back in the 1980's when John announced to me that it was the 100th birthday of his own father, John Glascock (Glazy) Mays.
Love--
Recent stories

John Mays as government official (From David Z. Robinson)

Shared by Claire & Chris Mays on May 18, 2015
I first met John when he became a post-doctoral student of E. Bright Wilson at Harvard who a few years earlier had been my thesis adviser.  His Ph.D. Adviser had been Charles Townes, who later won a Nobel prize for his discovery of the maser and laser.  He was friendly with Townes throughout his life, although John was continually amused and amazed  by Townes' religious view that God intervened in our daily lives.  I became reacquainted with John and met Bibi, when Nan and I would visit Phil Anderson in New Jersey, a colleague of John's at Bell Labs,  However, we really didn't become friends until we moved to Washington at the beginning of th Kennedy Administration.  I was working for the President's Science Adviser, and John at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in their Science Education program.   John was a facilitator, who had the ability to recognize talented people, and bring them together.  His goal throughout his government career was to improve Elementary and Secondary education, and in his three jobs, he did that in somewhat different ways.   At the NSF, John recognized that the traditional writers of school textbooks produced textbooks in physics that "did little to stimulate students' interest in the subject, failed to teach them to think like physicists, and afforded few opportunities for them to approach problems in the way that a physicist should" (to quote N. Herr). John supervised the development of the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) Physics Curriculum, headed by Jerrold Zacharias of MIT, and the ChemStudy program headed by Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg.  Recognizing the limits of traditional pedagogy, John was an early supporter of work in cognitive psychology, such as that by Jerome Bruner.   Jerome (Jerry) Wiesner, President Kennedy's Science Adviser, was very interested in involving the office in Science Education,  He wanted to set up a Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) on Science Education with Zacharias as Chair.  I believe that either I or Jerrold suggested that John join our staff to work in Science Education.  John helped put together the PSAC Panel on Science Education, which wrote a number of reports that influenced the NSF program and inspired more scientists to get involved in science education.  John also worked closely with the Bureau of the Budget and helped insure that Science Education programs got adequate funding.   John went to the newly established National Institute of Education, which was in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and worked to develop their program of Research and Education.  He made lifelong friendships with two outstanding government officials: Dick Darman, who was chief assistant to Elliott Richardson, the Secretary of the Agency, whose history is here:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/25/AR2008012502046_3.html   and Marshall (Mike) Smith whose career is summarized here:   http://www.ed.gov/blog/2010/05/marshall-mike-s-smith-ph-d-retires-again-from-ed/   I remember coming to Washington when I was Vice-President of the Carnegie foundation, and John and Bibi put up a dinner party for me attended by Darman and Smith and their wives.  It was clear to me at the dinner that Dick and Mike considered John an equal partner in their goal of improving education.   NIE was transferred to the new Department of Education in 1979, and John's most important task may have been his contribution to the landmark report "A Nation at Risk" directed byTerrell Bell, the embattled head of the Department of education under Reagan (who had planned to abolish it).   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nation_at_Risk   The Commission that produced the report was headed by David Gardner, the President of the University of Utah.  John made sure that three of his friends were on the Commission : Bill Baker, the retired President of Bell Labs; Gerry Holton, a professor of physics and history of Science at Harvard whom John had supported; and Glenn Seaborg, whom John had supported when at NS.  The Commission, which had about twenty members, put together a rather mushy report.  John told me that Gardner  wanted three things:   A good title. A unanimous Report. A punchy, readable and quotable summary which would be all that reporters and the public would actually read. 
John told me that Baker and Seaborg went up to Harvard and with Holton's wonderful writing skills put together the "Summary", a really original document.  I don't know if they invented the title, but the report was endorsed by the Commission and released and got enormous publicity.  Reagan (who had declined Bell's wish to announce the appointment of the Commission) latched on to the Report, and there was no further mention of the Department of Education being abolished!    John Mays in his professional career showed that a government official who kept in the background and didn't seek credit or publicity could accomplish wonderful things that greatly helped his country.      

From Robert G. Shulman, who introduced our parents (Email from Aug. 2011)

Shared by Claire & Chris Mays on March 15, 2014

Dear Claire,


  Your father and I became friends when we were in the same laboratory working for the same professor,Charles Townes, at Columbia in the late 1940's and have been friends since. As graduate students I appreciated the careful study he made of  NYC regulations about the required height for storefront awnings because he knew his height and kept bumping his head into awnings that were legally bound to let him walk under them unchecked. When I came to Bell Labs where he had been building magnetic resonance equipment he generously let me share the use of that equipment with him and we did research together that determined my research directions ever since.


He looked at the  absurdities with a witty detachment  but he was not detached in his love for  your mother and you and  your daughters-he was unrestrainedly  proud and adoring of you all.  He gloried in being surrounded by beautiful women across the generations- his mother ,his wife, his daughter and grand-daughters. He felt lucky and in his secular way - blessed. Although he was often critical he was not unkind and although he had a smutty sense of humor his thoughts were very clean- pasteurized by high ideals. His failing was an excessive modesty- he put too low a price on himself. I did not share this view so it didn't prevent me from being interested in and admiring of him all these long years. I loved him


Bob

From David Z. Robinson

Shared by Claire & Chris Mays on August 28, 2012

 I first knew John casually [at Harvard] as a Wilson post-doc.  Nan and I then met him and Bibi, when we would visit the Andersons in New Jersey and he was at Bell Labs.  Then when we came to Washington in 1961 he was at the National Science Foundation.  Very early we became much closer as a family.  Then he joined me at the ( JFK) White House (President's Science Advisory Panel under Lee Dubridge) and we had a number of years when we saw each other almost daily, while also socializing with our families.

He is an unsung hero of educational reform.  He early understood the need to merge cognitive psychology with education, and he recognized real talent when he saw it, going out of his way to introduce me to Dick Darman and Mike Smith.  He got Glenn Seaborg, Bill Baker and Gerry Holton on the "Nation at Risk" Commission, and they were the ones that actually put together that landmark report.

I think his outspoken personality overshadowed that of your mother, but their love was permanent and real, as was his devotion to his family, and his pride in his grandchildren. I don't think he ever recovered from Bibi's tragic death, although his sense of humor and his command of language, exemplified by his many one-sentence letters to the Editor, remained unparalleled.

I have a special folder of John Mays emails.