Hundreds gathered at Harbor Links Clubhouse to celebrate the life of former North Hempstead Supervisor May Newburger on Sunday.
With a reception followed by a memorial celebration, many shared memories of Newburger the public servant, mother, mentor, activist, neighbor and friend.
They gathered inside the clubhouse, whose views looked out onto the Harbor Links Golf Course, once a sand mine that was reclaimed under Newburger – her signature achievement, said Art Gianelli, her former Town Hall deputy, who now serves as president and CEO of Nassau Health Care Corporation.
Newburger always believed in “doing what is right,” North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman said. That included closing landfills and her commitment to the environment, which led to the creation of the Environmental Legacy Fund. She took the blame when initiatives didn’t work out, but when they succeeded, she gave credit, Kaiman said.
Peter Newburger spoke fondly of his mother, recalling her Christmas Eve block parties and the year she served as class mother, inviting “the entire fourth grade class to our home,” always “extending and giving herself to those around her.”
“There never has been and never will be anyone like her,” he said.
“You never got the feeling there was something more important” she needed to do “when you talked to her,” said Pauli Wertheim, a neighbor who cherished Newburger’s Christmas parties, which described as a “winter wonderland.”
Naomi Feldheim recalled Newburger’s fighting racism seen in housing, education and the job market; marching with Martin Luther King Jr.; and protesting against the Vietnam War.
Newburger spent her time “not planting seeds, but ideas” that she “nourished,” Feldheim said.
“If May said you could, you would, and you did,” she said.
Newburger, D-Great Neck, died on Aug. 31. She was 92.