September 21, 2015
Lifetime Achievement Awards 2015

May passes golf passion on to next generation

PHOTO | Steve Laschever
PHOTO | Steve Laschever
Ted May
PHOTO | Steve Laschever

If you hit the links this summer you experienced the joy, passion and mission of Edwin H. "Ted" May, III, founding partner of Glastonbury insurance and financial services agency May, Bonee & Walsh, and founder/board chairman of The First Tee of Connecticut.

The First Tee started in Florida as a way to get kids who couldn't normally afford it to play golf. When May heard about the organization he thought it would be great for Connecticut.

"Ted loves golf," said Tracy Rice, First Tee's manager of development and communications. "He loves what it represents and what kids can learn from it."

May's involvement in the sport tracks back to the mid-1970's when he began volunteering for the state's PGA Tour event, the Greater Hartford Open, which went on to become the Travelers Championship, an event that has an annual $20 million economic impact on the state. He has been a member of the tournament's board of directors since 1982, joined by his wife Debbie and their three children, who are all active tournament volunteers.

During the same two decades, May followed up his 1970 graduation from Williams College and experience on active duty for the U.S. National Guard by undertaking a sales management training program with Phoenix Mutual Insurance Company in Hartford. After developing his own insurance practice as an independent broker, he became a founding partner of May, Bonee & Walsh in 1985.

For May, his efforts and career complete the circle of business and giving back to the community.

"The First Tee was a natural outgrowth of the Greater Hartford Open," he says. "The success of the program would not be possible without the support of my company and the business we built up over the years," he says of the team at May, Bonee & Walsh.

More than just a way for kids to learn the game of golf, The First Tee of Connecticut promotes the values that go along with the sport, he says.

"It's a very dignified and courteous sport and hobby, teaching values like respect, courtesy, sportsmanship," says Rice. "There is also honesty — you have to keep track of your own score, and perseverance — even if you have a terrible hole, you have to keep going."

These attributes are formalized through The First Tee Life Skills curriculum, which is based on nine core values — honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, courtesy, judgment, confidence, responsibility and perseverance — as well as its nine healthy habits — energy, play, safety, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community.

"Our kids walk out of the program as better students, more responsible people, and go on to be better adults because of the life skills and core values we teach, using golf as the vehicle," says May. "What I find most satisfying is that we are now reaching 70,000 kids with programs in all the major cities in Connecticut."

May's efforts both on the golf circuit and in the community have been recognized for years. In 2008, he received the Gold Key Award for his contribution to Connecticut sports, and in 2014 he was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame. In 2013, May was the recipient of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Most Outstanding Citizen Award.

Thanks to his many years working as a PGA tour liaison, May has built and maintained an impressive list of professional golf contacts, which he doesn't hesitate to tap for the First Tee kids.

"Ted knows golf pros like they are family. He can pick up the phone and get any of them at any time," says Rice. "He will introduce them to the kids in the program every chance he gets. They can meet the pros, and even play alongside them."

Looking forward, May said he has no plans to slowdown business or his work with First Tee.

"The potential is endless. It's hard to believe, but every day we hear from people who want to bring in a school program, or run one at a YMCA, a boys' or girls' club, or a magnet school," he says, hinting at the opportunities that await within those solicitations. "We are always looking for more teachers and coaches to expand the program."

Edwin H. May, III

The Basics

Name of organization: May, Bonee & Walsh Insurance Services

Title: Partner

Size of organization: 21 employees

Education: Bachelor's Degree, Williams College

Previous job: Phoenix Mutual Life
Ins. Co.

On the job

Guiding business principle: Make recommendations to clients you would follow and live by yourself for the future, not just the present

Best way to keep your competitive edge: Strategic alliances with national partners for insurance brokerage, employee benefits and investments

Proudest accomplishment: Growing our firm consistently each year over 30-plus years, with personal customer service and solid client relationships

Favorite part of the job: Seeing younger people in the firm come along and take responsibility

Least favorite part of the job:
Ever-changing regulations with employee benefits

Personal touch in your office: Always have a real person answer an incoming call — the old fashioned way

Judgment calls

Best business decision: Forming our business initially with terrific partners and hiring a dedicated staff

Best way to spot trends: Listen to our clients — their concerns and sense for their business, the economy and the region

Your pet peeve: Compliance with the Affordable Care Act

Personal side

City of residence: Wethersfield

Favorite way to relax: Spending time with family

Hobbies: Grandchildren! Golf, skiing

Last vacation: St. Andrews, Scotland

Favorite movie: "Caddyshack"

Currently reading: "A Portrait of My Father," by George W. Bush

Favorite causes: The First Tee of CT and Travelers Championship

Second choice career: None, never even considered

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