WHITAKER, MAY TARBELL CANNON (15 Oct. 1858-14 July 1944) writer and civic leader, was elected to the Cleveland School Council (1900-04), served on the executive committees of both the state and the CUYAHOGA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY, and was an associate editor for the Cleveland PRESS in 1915. Whitaker was born in BEDFORD, OH, to Leverett and May Helen Tinker Tarbell. She attended Willoughby College and Ohio Wesleyan University, graduating in 1879. She married salesman Grover Gordon Cannon (d. 1888) on 30 September 1879. They lived first in Marion, OH, then in Bedford and had 3 children, Tom Tarbell, Herbert Grove, and Dana Alonzo Cannon. Whitaker married Brooks Oil Company founder Alfred Whitaker on 15 Oct. 1894; he died less than 2 years later. They had one son, Alfred Andrew, Jr. Twice widowed, she then moved with her children from Bedford to Cleveland.
Whitaker took over her husband's business (serving as president of Brooks Oil for 3 years), and plunged into political, civic and social leadership. In about 1904 she began writing, first published in Suburban Life. Other magazines later published her work and she joined the Cleveland Women's Press Club (later the Cleveland Writers' Club), which she served as president, and Ohio Newspaper Women. Whitaker served on the executive committee of the women's department of the Centennial Commission (see CLEVELAND ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS) and helped to publish The Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve. She was a member and state and local president of the WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION, NONPARTISAN, OF CLEVELAND, serving its projects such as the FRIENDLY INN SOCIAL SETTLEMENT and the RAINEY INSTITUTE. Whitaker belonged to the Epworth Memorial Church (later EPWORTH EUCLID UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Society of New England Women. She died in Sacramento, CA, and is buried in Bedford, OH.