The world lost Libby Nieburg last week, just as spring was bringing its new life.
Vivacious, smiling Libby spent seven years, six years longer than expected, fighting the cancer that eventually took her life – and that was not her first battle with cancer. Years before, she had survived breast cancer. In fact, when the Herald’s first advertising manager, Kay Williams, was undergoing chemotherapy, Libby brought Kay two of her wigs to cover thinning hair.
With the latest cancer, I never saw Libby wear a wig. Super-short bright red hair was her image. Libby always looked good; slender and petite, she worked out at her gym or, if she couldn’t get there, walked around her house, up and down stairs to make up miles.
She loved buying food in season from local farm markets. She loved the blueberries from Solebury Orchards, the strawberries from Manoff’s, the corn from None Such Farms.
She was, of course, the wife of Gordon Nieburg, the Herald photographer and she was, of course, the person who was always with him, composing the photos, taking the names, always checking the spelling. Gordon shot the photos and Libby wrote the captions. If she discovered a mistake, she jumped on it and made sure the Herald fixed it.
About a year ago, Gordon wanted Libby included in the photo credits. It should have happened a long time ago, because Libby was at least half of the picture.
I first met Gordon and Libby about 20 years ago, when I was editor of the New Hope Gazette and the Nieburgs had recently moved to Bucks County. Gordon, who had worked in NASA’s space launch crews and was a skilled photographer, offered to do photography for the paper and Libby, a former teacher, was by his side.
Gordon and Libby became part of the local community. Both joined the Eagle Fire Company police. Libby was involved in New Hope organizations – the park and receation board and others. The Nieburgs together were members and supporters of Kehilat Ha Nahar, the synagogue in New Hope. Both threw their enthusiasm into covering New Hope and Lambertville events year after year, like the Shad Festival, the New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival, the Pride celebration. They insisted that certain events were theirs and theirs alone to cover.
When I moved on to the Bucks County Herald, Gordon and Libby came with me, for almost 18 years making local history.
And dear Libby helped to build the Herald.
To add to the sadness of Libby’s passing, there was no memorial service – social distancing because of the novel coronavirus pandemic had begun. Libby was buried in Washington Crossing National Cemetery, a place she and Gordon had often photographed, with no friends and family around her to say goodbye.
Libby deserved flowers and music, lots of people talking, a ceremony, a long funeral procession, a celebration of a generous life.
Libby Gross Nieburg was a lovely woman.