Cover photo for Selma A. Newburgh's Obituary
Selma A. Newburgh Profile Photo
1938 Selma 2022

Selma A. Newburgh

March 27, 1938 — November 26, 2022

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Selma Abigadol Newburgh age 84 of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts passed away on Saturday, November 26, 2022.  She was the wife of the late Ronald Gerald Newburgh

In 1957, Selma Newburgh arrived in the United States from Istanbul at the age of 19.  She arrived alone, and did not know anyone locally, but she knew she wanted to study architecture, and had been accepted at Carnegie Tech (now Mellon). To her family, she was very courageous to go to the USA by herself, but they knew her to be a successful, hard studying student, and Selma was off to realize her destiny. 

She lived all her life in the USA but often traveling back to Istanbul to family she cherished. She remembered when she was 5 years old her father moved the family to a section of the Old City called Tahtakale. "Father had built himself a factory including living quarters on the upper floors. We had a large apartment plus a roof terrace with a Hamam – a Turkish bath house, and a panoramic view showing the Golden Horn, the confluence of the Marmara Sea with the Bosporus, and Kadikoy at the Asiatic shore beyond." 

Selma attended Turkish public schools, loved learning, and earned admittance into the American College for Girls, part of Robert College, an American School in Istanbul where she became fluent in English. On school breaks and summers they would spend time at the Prince Islands on the Marmara Sea, where she developed her lifelong love of swimming. 

After receiving her architecture degree from Carnegie Tech, she earned her Masters Degree in City Planning from MIT and also graduated from Harvard Business School. She loved her work at The Architect Collaborative in Cambridge and often traveled to the Philippines and South America on special projects for many years.

Through a mutual acquaintance, Selma met Ronald Newburgh, then a physicist at Hanscom Airforce Cambridge Research Laboratories. They soon wed, moved to Belmont, with Selma becoming step-mother to Ron's son and daughter, Alex & Stephanie. Selma and Ron were two peas in a pod and shared a deep love of travel, history, wit and wisdom. Selma enjoyed 40+ wonderful years with 'Ronnie'. They led friends and family through many spirited discussions over thoughtfully planned and executed dinner parties. Their love of cooking was a further bond they cherished and enjoyed. To hear Selma describe a meal she had eaten or prepared never failed to leave one hungry.

Selma added a career in real estate on top of her architectural successes and the combination made her a sought after resource for her clients, many of whom she kept in touch with over the years. She was also a gifted artist, who drew sketches and loved creating watercolors from her many travels.

Selma moved into Jamaica Towers, Jamaica Plain, in 2013 and was active in Coop affairs. Using her finance, real estate, architecture and design background, she became a member of the Finance Committee and subsequently was elected to the Board, serving from 2018 until spring 2022. She also served as Treasurer of the Coop.

She worked on the space planning effort, the design of the townhouse roofs and soffits, the new fence, the balcony project, and the proposed design of the new canopy among other projects. She also worked on financing for the loans at the co-op in the building.

Despite choosing not to run again in 2022 due to health concerns, Selma remained very active as an advisor to the Board, maintaining some of our check tracking and reserve spreadsheets while she still could.

She loved cooking good food – duck legs were a specialty, traveling to new places, enjoying dinners with friends and decorating her apartment. She was fiercely independent.

Selma is survived by her sister Belkis Burduroglu and brother in-law Akon Burduroglu of Istanbul, her cousin Sara Rabinovic of Philadelphia, her nieces & nephews Selim & Ismail, Yonca & Mine, Albert & Alex, Suzan & Ira, as well as step-daughter Stephanie Lyon and step-son Alex Newburgh, son in law Ed Lyon and daughter in law Tracey Newburgh, and grandchildren Tanya, Curt, Gabriela and Cristina. 

Services will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 12:00 pm in the  Bigelow Chapel, Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mt. Auburn Street,  Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Donations may be made to:
Perkins School for the Blind
175 N. Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Arrangements under the care of Concord Funeral Home, 74 Belknap Street, Concord, MA 01742  978-369-3388

Service Schedule

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Memorial Service

Saturday, April 1, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

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