Cordelia Scaife May
Cordelia Scaife May (September 24, 1928 – January 26, 2005), known as "Cordy" to her family and friends, was a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area philanthropist and one of the wealthiest women in the United States.
She was the only daughter of Alan Magee Scaife and Sarah Cordelia Mellon Scaife, daughter of Richard B. Mellon and niece of Andrew W. Mellon. She was raised with her brother Richard Mellon Scaife at the family estate in Ligonier and prepared at the Foxcroft School. She attended Carnegie Institute of Technology, now known as Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh briefly, but left school to marry longtime family friend Herbert A. May Jr. on June 30, 1949.
The couple divorced after scarcely a year, and she resumed a childhood friendship with Allegheny County District Attorney, Robert Duggan, which blossomed into a romantic relationship. They secretly wed on August 29, 1973 amidst a federal investigation by then-United States Attorney Dick Thornburgh into allegations of racketeering and corruption on Duggan's part. On March 5, 1974, Duggan was found dead of shotgun wounds hours before being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of income tax evasion.
His death was ruled either an accident or suicide. May maintained that he was murdered, although she never said by whom. Her brother's disapproval of their relationship led to a longtime estrangement between the siblings.
When her mother, Sarah Scaife, died in 1965, Cordelia May inherited a sizable portion of the Mellon fortune. She would distribute tens of millions of dollars to charity through the Laurel Foundation  (established 1951), Colcom Foundation  (established 1996), and directly, most on the condition her name not be revealed.
In 2005, the year of her death, May was recognized as the single most generous person in the United States. Her charitable donations for the year were almost one-tenth of the $4.3 billion donated by the nation’s leading philanthropists.
May's sensitivity to humanity's ecological footprint found expression in her charitable donations to land conservation, watershed protection, environmental education, and population causes.
May was occasionally labeled as reclusive. She valued a person’s privacy, and she was selective, but she included people from all walks of life. To close friends, she is remembered as sensitive, loyal, generous, and warm.
Some evidence was brought to light after her death that May provided funding for some groups that are labeled as hate groups within the United States. One such group was the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group who claims that African Americans are a "retrograde species of humanity". There is, however, no factual basis for her support of any such entity or belief.
Other evidence reveals the groups she funded were racially neutral.
- see http://www.laurelfdn.org
- see http://www.colcomfdn.org
- Chronicle of Philanthropy, online magazine Slate, and also Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 20, 2006, Cordelia May tops givers list
- Pro, Johnna A. and Pitz, Marylynne, "Obituary: Cordelia Scaife May," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 27, 2005, and Sullivan, Patricia, "Cordelia May, 76; Mellon Heir Avoided Spotlight," Washington Post, January 28, 2005.
- Vondas, Jerry, "Philanthropist Cordelia Scaife May dies at 76," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 27, 2005.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 11, 2005, Friends gather to honor memory of Cordelia May, http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05042/456075.stm
- http://www.cis.org/immigration-splc and http://www.fairus.org/site/DocServer/SPLCGuide_Final.pdf?docID=3541.