Rita May

Passed away on October 1, 2012

Rita (Fromholz) May, resident of Medford, MA (formerly of Winthrop, MA) died on

October 1, 2012 at the age of 91. Rita May was the widow of Ralph May. Funeral services will be held at Levine Chapel in Brookline on Wednesday, October

3rd at 11:00 am. Interment will be at Temple Israel Cemetery at 500 North

Avenue in Wakefield. Memorial observance will be at her former residence,

18 Pitcher Avenue, Medford, on Wednesday immediately following the

interment until 7:00 pm, and on Thursday, October 4th from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

and 7:00 to 9:00 pm, Friday October 5th from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, and Sunday,

October 7th from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Rita May was born November 1,

1920 in Berlin, Germany, the daughter of Otto and Greta Fromholz. Rita and

her parents fled Germany during the Nazi era and arrived in the United

States in 1938. Rita and her husband Ralph first settled in New York

before moving to Winthrop, MA in 1952. Together,Rita and her husband owned

and operated The Ralph May Organization, Inc.,a leather import/export

company with international clients and suppliers. After the death of

her husband in 1973, Rita continued to operate the business for many years

with the help of her daughter, Rhona, and Barry Thomas.

After retiring from the business, Rita pursued many active passions,

including swimming, reading, yoga, traveling, and visiting with friends.

She was also an active patron of the performing arts including music,

opera and theater. In 1993 she returned to Berlin for the first time in 55

years to be welcomed by the city as a Holocaust survivor. In 1995, Rita

organized and led the first ever Holocaust memorial observance in Winthrop

in partnership with the public school system. She was a long-time member

of Temple Israel in Boston where she was a very close personal friend of

many clergy, including Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn.

The education of children was a passion of Rita’s marked by her work as an

intergenerational volunteer in the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center

at Temple Israel in Boston. She volunteered for many years in the

school’s Toddler Room, a passion that was commemorated in 2005 on the

occasion of her 85th birthday with the dedication of the room in her

honor. It was not unusual to find Rita dressed in her impeccable style

sprawled on the floor with the toddlers, or with one sitting in her lap.

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Rhona May-D’Onofrio and

Paul D’Onofrio, two granddaughters, Rebekah May Barkowitz and Danielle May

Thomas, a grandson-in-law, Daniel Barkowitz, and three great-

granddaughters, Rachel May Barkowitz, Caroline Read Barkowitz and Emma

Eloise Driscoll. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Rita May

Toddler Room at the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center of Temple

Israel, Boston (477 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02215) or to the charity of

your choice.


  • Funeral Service Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rita May

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Barbara Fleischer-Mahoney

October 8, 2012

Dear Rhona, Paul and all Rita's family,

So sorry to hear of Rita's passing. She was a dear friend to my mother, Rita Fleischer, and a friend to all our family, too.

Andrew Fleischer

October 8, 2012

Dear Rhona, Paul & to everyone who knew and loved Rita May, I offer my sympathies to you all.

Rita was a warm, charming and engaging woman whom I mostly knew thru her friendship with my mother -- a friendship she valued very much. You were all so sweet to her in her latter years and we will always be grateful for the smiles that Rita May brought to everyone.

Len's and my thoughts are with you.

Best always,


Debbi Fendell

October 7, 2012

Dear May Family,
I have so many wonderful memories of Rita in the Toddler Room. It was certainly not unusual to see her standing on her head! She loved being with the children and they loved her right back. May her memory be for a blessing. With love, Debbi

Jim Matarazzo

October 6, 2012

To the D'Onofrios, Barowitzes and Thomases:

I am very sorry to hear this. Nani was an amazing person. I will carry her memory and influence with me.


Linda Bissett

October 4, 2012

I was sorry to hear of your mom's passing when I return to work on Tuesday. My prayers are with you and your family.
Take care Linda

Linda Bissett

October 4, 2012

I was sorry to hear of your mom's passing upon my return to work on Tuesday. My prayers are with you and your family.

Robert Cuddi

October 4, 2012

I was so saddened to receive the message from Rebecca of Rita's passing. I have such fond memories of her and the entire family.
Prayers always. Robert

Kristen Reynolds

October 3, 2012

Rhona, Rebekah & Danielle,
I was so sorry to hear of Noni's passing. She was a remarkable woman. I have wonderful memories of my time spent with her growing up and of all she taught us. May your memories be of comfort to you in your time of sorrow. Love to you all and to your families,

Anne Emerson

October 3, 2012

To the Thomas Family,
I am terribly sorry for your loss. Wishing you healing and peace.

October 3, 2012

We feel so sad about your loss. We have such unforgettable memories especially from our stay in Boston 1964 - 66. Julia and Klaus Naegeli, Ebmatingen Switzerland