May Newburger, a former supervisor and councilwoman, and a state assemblywoman, died at 92 on Thursday. According to Newsday, she died in her Great Neck home from complications from cancer.
The first female town supervisor on Long Island, Newburger was considered a role model in public service who counseled many prominent political leaders. They admired her for her dedication and her friendship.
“May Newburger was one of the all time greats,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. “She changed the way legislators represented Long Island, making the fight for her North Hempstead community a full time job.”
“As one of the first women in the assembly, she was a trailblazer,” he added. “In addition to all that, was a fine and caring person who gave me both invaluable political and personal advice as a young legislator. I will miss her."
“It’s a very sad time,” said , D-Great Neck. “She was an extraordinary woman and certainly a mentor. She lived a full life, into her 90s.”
“She is going to be missed,” Kaiman added, noting her 10 years as town supervisor, and other roles in government, including working for a time in Tom Suozzi’s administration when he served as Nassau County executive. “She was so much of a part of this town.”
Many paid tribute to her dedication.
“I'm deeply saddened to learn about the passing of May Newburger," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-Roslyn Heights, said. "She was an icon in local politics and a great mentor, colleague and friend. May was a trailblazer and a true public servant who dedicated her life to helping her community and her constituents."
Referring to her work as town supervisor and in the state assembly, Ackerman said, "She worked tirelessly on scores of issues that helped improve the lives of countless individuals."
He added, "She was a champion of environmental protection, women's rights and many other initiatives. Her leadership on these issues will never be forgotten, and while she will be deeply missed, her legacy will live on for many years to come.
Both Ackerman and Schumber visited Newburger earlier in August "just before the unveiling of the proposed , she was in great spirits and still showed the tenacity for which she was known," Ackerman said. "It was an honor to work with May and I was proud to call her my friend. She was an outstanding person."
Many political leaders mentored by Newburger remember her as a woman of inspiration.
"Long Island lost an amazing woman and public servant, May Newburger,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, D-Great Neck. “May always did the right thing for the right reason. May's political courage inspired me – when I take a tough vote she is never far. She was brilliant and articulate, yet remarkably modest – always sharing her success with those around her. I love her and will miss her friendship and wise counsel. My prayers go out to her son, Peter, as well as everyone who knew and admired her."
“In addition to working for the town during May's tenure as a councilwoman and supervisor, I had the privilege of serving on the town board with May Newburger in her final term as supervisor,” said Leg. Wayne Wink, D-Roslyn. “May was an extraordinary woman, a tireless and passionate advocate for causes and people largely overlooked in our society. She blazed a trail for several generations of public officials who have served with her and mentored so many of us along the way. My family and I will miss May terribly, and we will miss her charm, her warmth and her intellect.”
"May exemplified two virtues in politics: courage and integrity," said Jay Nassau County Democratic Committee Chair Jay Jacobs. "Integrity led her to the right decisions. Courage gave her the strength to make them. And she always did."
Those in the public eye noted too that her career touched those from both sides of the aisle.
“May was an icon in government here in Nassau County and certainly within the Town of North Hempstead,” said , R-Mineola. “She was also a trailblazer for women everywhere. Her dedication on several important issues such as the environment and women's rights left an indelible mark on many of our communities. She will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to her son Peter and her countless friends."
Newburger ran for state assembly in 1978, and served there until 1986, according to Newsday, which also reported that she served as a North Hempstead councilwoman in 1992, and town supervisor from 1994-2003.
Newburger is survived by her son Peter. Her husband Jack passed away in 1978,
The Town of North Hempstead is organizing a memorial service for late September, Kaiman said.