Murray Seeman, former mayor of Great Neck Estates, dies at 103

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Murray Seeman
Murray Seeman during his time as mayor of Great Neck Estates in the early 1980s, where he lived for at least six decades. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Rothbort)

Murray Seeman, a lawyer, real estate developer and former mayor of Great Neck Estates, died on Saturday. He was 103.

Seeman died of natural causes in his Great Neck Estates home, his family said.

Family members said Seeman was an energetic and “civic-minded” man who lived life to the fullest, able to play tennis and work until he was 95. He also had “a gift” of being able to handle complicated business and personal situations, they said.

“He was very diplomatic,” his daughter Michelle Rothbort said. “People would come to him from all over for his advice because he was a wise man.”

“He knew how to handle complicated business situations, personal situations,” Rothbort added. “That was a gift of his.”

Seeman served as a trustee of Great Neck Estates from 1967 to 1975 before serving as the village’s mayor from 1975 to 1983. While he was mayor, the village was “one of the first” to stand against nuclear proliferation, Rothbort said, and he helped start one of Long Island’s first art sanctuaries.

He was also incredibly responsive to residents.

“He took calls anytime anyone called,” recalled his wife Lee Seeman, 89, a Town of North Hempstead councilwoman seeking re-election.

Murray Seeman also worked with Reuben Kershaw, the former mayor of Lake Success, for many years as a real estate developer, Lee Seeman said.

In that capacity they built single and multifamily homes and apartments in Queens and Long Island, including in Port Washington and Mineola.

He also had a long love or archeology, Seeman said, co-founding the North Shore Archeological Society.

“To this day, they meet and bring in archeologists on different subjects,” Seeman said.

Murray Seeman, as seen in 1985, receiving the New York State Bar Association’s Award of Merit for his work as an attorney. (Photo courtesy of the Seeman family)

Seeman was born on July 7, 1914, to Dora and Benjamin Seeman in Ridgewood, Queens. He had two siblings. He graduated from Boys High School in Brooklyn in 1931, Brooklyn College in 1934 and Columbia Law School in 1937.

Family members said that becoming a lawyer was one of his favorite accomplishments.

“He was just proud to be an attorney,” Rothbort said. “He worked himself through law school, two jobs, and it was very meaningful for him.”

Seeman joined the Army in 1942, his family said, serving in Africa, Italy and France between 1942 and 1945. He also served as a judge for the Allied Military Government Court in Naples, Italy, in 1944 and as a trial advocate and defense attorney.

Lee Seeman said her husband spoke about his experience “all the time” and that together they traveled to at least 40 veterans reunions.

“We went all over the country with those reunions,” Lee said.

The two met in 1953 at a hotel in Vermont, saw each other frequently and decided to wed that year.

“We got to know each other and we were for each other,” Lee said. “I never thought of him as being so much older.”

Together, the two would travel around the world, especially through the Middle East. Lee said that there were probably only two places in the world they didn’t visit.

“The North Pole and the South Pole,” she said. “That’s probably about it.”

He also demonstrated a love for language in these trips, family said, always learning to communicate in the local language.

In addition to his wife, Seeman is survived by their children Michelle Rothbort, Janine Buss, and Scott Seeman, all from Port Washington, and their daughter Roxanne Seeman of Los Angeles. He is also survived by seven grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 10:30 a.m. at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck. Seeman will be buried in Farmingdale’s Wellwood Cemetery.

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