Maybelle Lilly Game was born in Glyndon, Minnesota to Minnie and Ernest Game on Easter Sunday, 1905. Her parents were independent farmers in the Red River Valley of western Minnesota. Her father had emigrated from England in 1880 with his parents, and May was always proud of her heritage. May was salutatorian of her high school class in Glyndon and went on to work her way through Moorehead State Teachers College and North Dakota State University. She received her baccalaureate degree in education in 1929. May worked as a county extension agent in Fairbault County, Minnesota, teaching rural farming families about canning, sewing, and gardening. Afterward she taught home economics in farming community schools before meeting her future husband Charles Bernard “Barney” Carlson, also a native of Minnesota. Barney accepted a newspaper job in Texas, and they were married in 1937 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Carlson family moved to Corvallis in 1951. May taught a variety of classes in homemaking in the Corvallis Adult Education Program. In 1961, she began teaching home economics at Corvallis High School, where she was later a counselor and also served as founder and director of the Youth Employment Service. May worked actively with young people either as a teacher or a leader for more than thirty-five years. Her years of volunteer service included the YWCA, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, and Sunday school. May was elected as a Woman of Achievement in 1967. She was an active member of the Church of the Good Samaritan and served on the selection committee for the American Field Service, and on Governor’s Committee for Children and Youth. She was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa honorary sorority for women teachers, Soroptomist International, and Gamma Phi Beta sorority.
May believed in the importance of family, neighborhood, and community. She loved to share with others her love of cooking and entertaining. She believed that life was exciting when you invested in people. Her home was “home” to OSU foreign exchange students from numerous nations and her connection to them was lifelong.
May will be remembered for her unconditional love, which was her true gift. She created good times with her warm smile, her love for people, and her zest for life. She was a great teacher whose greatest lesson was tolerance of all people and willingness to accept all that life brings to us. She was in her one-hundredth year when she passed away on November 7, 2004.