More than anything else, Maxwell Tuthill relished making other people smile. His wit, infectious smile and timing for a sarcastic joke could turn even a cheerless moment into a round of laughter.
Those closest to him could always count on him in times of need. When his brother Nick May needed someone to confide in, Max was there. When his friends were going through a rough patch, Max was there.
“It didn’t matter what time of day it was, what was going on in our lives, we always had time to listen to the other one talk,” said Mr. May, who is 10 years older. “We were always there for each other.”
Max was remembered as a loving uncle and a caring friend who always had a smile on his face. He died just past midnight Friday when his 1998 Suzuki motorcycle left the roadway and struck a tree on Hubbard Avenue near Jackson Street, according to Riverhead Town police. He was 23.
Max was rushed to Peconic Bay Medical Center by members of the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps and he succumbed to his injuries at the hospital, police said.
“It’s a big loss for all of us,” said Jesse May, Max’s sister-in-law. “All of us are still reeling from the shock of it.”
Nick and Jesse were vacationing in Canada when they were woken up around 4 a.m. by a phone call alerting them of the devastating news.
“We all lost someone very, very important to us and it’s going to take a long time to find a new normal in our lives,” Ms. May said. “It’s almost like everything now is going to be looked at before Max and after Max.”
Max cherished his role as an uncle. He loved his nieces and nephew like they were his own children, Ms. May said. When her daughter, Willow, was born, Max, who was in high school at the time, would help any way he could, even changing diapers. Max was Willow’s godfather.
Willow is now 8 and Mr. and Ms. May’s son, Nathan, is 7. Max would often take them to the beach or take them on rides around town.
“It didn’t matter what they were doing as long as they were with Uncle Max,” Ms. May said.
Max graduated from Riverhead High School in 2012 and was attending Suffolk County Community College. He was working for Creative Environmental Design as a foreman for a landscaping crew, his brother said.
Corinne Smith of Riverhead said she knew Max for 10 years. She recalled one time when she felt distraught about something she had done. Knowing his friend was upset, Max immediately visited and brought her favorite tea with lunch for them to share.
“He stayed with me for hours to make sure I was going to be OK,” she said. “He was just the type of person that would do anything and everything for those he cared about.”
While their lives took them in different directions in recent years, Ms. Smith said she will always remember the memories they shared.
Tyler Person, another friend, said he will always remember the laughter Max provided.
“The whole community is mourning, which just goes to show how many lives he truly touched,” he said.
Aly Milner of Riverhead said she met Max through a youth group at Mattituck Presbyterian Church. They became close friends as Max began dating her friend, Paulina Dudojc, nearly eight years ago.
“I’ll always remember Max as a human with no boundaries,” she said.
Ms. Dudojc recalled how Max loved to cook. There were nights she’d come home from work around 11:30 p.m. and Max would be wearing a chef hat and cooking her dinner. He would refer to everyone he met as “sweetheart,” she said. And he had become part of her family.
“We need a lot more people like Max in this world,” she said.
Max was predeceased by his mother, Loretta Trojanowski, who died Aug. 9, 2013, at 58. In addition to Nick and Jesse May and their children, he is survived by his father, Todd Tuthill Sr., and stepmother, Dawn Tuthill; his siblings Todd Tuthill Jr., Josh Mentesana, John May, Paige Molinari and Bethany Solinger; his niece Bianca May; and his grandmother Jackie Trojanowski.
The family received visitors Tuesday and Wednesday at Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home in Riverhead.