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Resident story: May McPhail paves the way for women and residents alike

The Tricare community is filled with people from all different walks of life, and our staff are lucky to hear countless stories that deserve to be heard by many others.

May McPhail is a Runaway Bay resident and a great example of one of our retirees with an exciting story, but the vibrancy of May’s life is what makes her tale unique. May’s life has always been full of adventure, with a career and long list of hobbies fuelled by ambition and curiosity. 

May was celebrated on Nine News recently as part of International Women’s Day.

May’s passion for teaching began as a Sunday School teacher when she was only 12 years old. Her natural talent for educating others led her to study teaching in Christchurch NZ, before moving back to Australia in 1963.

May filled breaks from teaching by working in a national management position in publishing, before operating her own business publishing educational and teaching books. May ran her business for 10 years before she decided to return to study in the 1990’s, achieving a PhD in Politics and International Relations whilst lecturing at Griffith University.

With a love for travel and adventure, May and Ian left Australia in 1969 with their three young children to see the world, the youngest being only six months old. The family settled in Los Angeles while Ian worked at UCLA, before moving to Victoria British Columbia for another academic pursuit.

But family, work and travel weren’t the only things important to May, as she followed her many interests, including flying planes. May earned her pilot’s license in 1976 and went on to train for aerobatics and compete in several air races, including the Trans-Australia Air Race from Perth to Sydney in 1979. 

Please note: the image of May in the blue uniform above is a dress up for a theme night at TriCare Retirement Community Runaway Bay with the theme of the letter ‘P’. May’s wings and licence are genuine, the rest of the outfit is not, she did not fly for any airline.

And if operating aircrafts weren’t enough, May’s love for the ocean also led her to gain a scuba divers qualification in 1985. 

May and her husband Ian joined the Runaway Bay TriCare Retirement Community in 2009 when her husband’s health was failing. Joining TriCare meant that May could continue her career as a lecturer and researcher at Griffith University until she was 78, knowing that her husband was supported at all times. 

Today, May is still an active contributor of Zonta International, an initiative dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls which May has been a member of for almost 40 years. May’s dedication to the organisation also led her to jump out of the plane for Zonta International almost 25 years ago, which was part of a deal she made if Whitsunday Zonta Club “got their [member] numbers up”.

May is also an avid writer, and has begun working on her own life story after having written the memoirs of two WWII bomber pilots.

Even in retirement, May’s determination to do what she loves has not wavered. May is a very valued member of the Runaway Bay Retirement Community, rewriting the rules of retirement. 

Learn more about Runaway Bay Retirement Living, or book an inspection by calling (07) 5500 2300.