May Pearce Korb

My grandmother, May Pearce Korb, died Friday, August 6, 2010 at the age of 87. She died in a hospital near where she lived on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, following an accident she had last weekend.

She was my mother’s mother, and I never knew her as May, really, but rather “Gigi,” a name she gave herself when I was born. It came from the old Pogo comic – there’s a character called Grundoon in it – a wrinkly baby woodchuck that always spoke in gibberish – and she thought I looked a little like that. Thus G.G. for “Grundoon’s Grandmother.” I’ve never really known what to make of that story (although, in retrospect, not really all that flattering) but she’s always just been Gigi to me.

A couple of little glimpses into my memories of her:

When I was growing up, she always used to send cards for about every holiday — birthday, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, whatever – and they always had a dollar bill in them. She moved to two dollars in the eighties, when I was in my teens and able to spend with more velocity. Those cards continued into college for me, and even after. In 1997, after I’d been working at Trilogy and then Apple, we saw each other at my Mom’s graduation ceremony (for her Masters in Library Science) and I remember proudly giving Gigi one of my Apple business cards. Without missing a beat, she said, “I’ve been sending $2 to a Senior Scientist at Apple??” Pretty funny. She was always super quick and super sharp with her humor — so that, at least, I come by honestly. She’s been sending SPL cards with a couple of dollars in them since he was born. A nice tradition and connection to her that always made me smile.

But the thing that I really remember about her is all the books. She owned a bookstore on St. Simons called The Shorebird, and one of my favorite things to do was to go to work with her. I would sit in the back and read everything back there, for what seemed like hours (but probably wasn’t) and remember feeling like I was a very lucky kid – and, of course, that’s exactly right.

I’ve been thinking about her a bunch the last few days, naturally, but especially because we’ve been at Disneyland, for SPL’s first visit there. One of my earliest memories is going to Walt Disney World with Gigi and the rest of the family (since they lived pretty close to Orlando), and it brings a lot of things full circle for me to be here now. More on that in a bit.

She leaves behind such a good family — my mom and her two brothers, who have been wonderful uncles (and now great uncles), and the seven grandkids (my cousins, my brother, and me), who are such a smart, funny, diverse, and talented group. No small feat.

Anyway, Gigi lived a good life, and I’ll miss her a lot.

R.I.P., May Pearce Korb, 1923 – 2010


  1. sorry to hear, John. my great-grandmother had us call her GiGi as well, and I never really thought about it until today. in her case, according to my dad, she just thought it’d be easier for us to use G.G. instead of “great-grandmother”. didn’t know that until a few minutes ago, and you’ve spurred a bunch of really good memories I haven’t dredged up in a long while.

    my condolences, and thanks for sharing.

  2. John, many condolences on your loss…. sounds like you have a treasure trove of wonderful memories of her. Thanks for sharing…

  3. John, what nice comments you have said about your grandmother. I am sure you do not remember me since it has been many years since I have seen you or your mom. May was my aunt. My dad was your grandpa Monte’s brother. We got an e-mail from him on Saturday giving us the sad news. Your grandma was a very special lady. I always looked forward to her Christmas cards every year and have very fond memories of visiting her in Georgia, I am sorry to say it has been too many years since I have seen her, but when every Uncle Monte has come to visit us here in Washington State he has let us know how she was doing. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Leslie

  4. Very thoughtful remembrance of May Korb … I worked in the Shorebird (a long time ago) and have many fond memories of her. Our parents were good friends and went to SSI Presbyterian together. Not surprised that you’re smart … Andy was super genius as well. After all I think Monte was a rocket scientist. I can’t make it to the remembrance but wish I could. Jack Parker, Jr.
    Btw my parents will be there.