Former Virginia Beach mayor Meyera Oberndorf dies at 74

Posted at 12:30 PM, Mar 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-13 17:17:34-04

 Virginia Beach, Va. - Former Virginia Beach mayor Meyera Oberndorf has died at 74. She passed away at around 10 a.m. on Friday morning according to the City of Virginia Beach and a close family friend.

Meyera Oberndorf

Oberndorf was the 23rd mayor of Virginia Beach, and the resort city’s longest serving mayor. She served as mayor from July of 1988 to January of 2009.

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She previously served as the city’s  vice mayor, and before that she served on city council from June of 1976 to June of 1988.

Current Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, who served under her as vice mayor for 10 years said, “She was the people's mayor. She was greatly loved by the community.”

Oberndorf also made political history in the resort city. She was the city’s first female mayor and was the first woman elected to public office. Her husband Roger Oberndorf died in October 2012. Following her husband’s death, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She is also a breast cancer survivor and has two daughters.

A service will be held at the ballroom at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Monday, March 16th.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association- 6350 Center Drive, Suite 102 Norfolk, VA 23502 (757)450-2405 or or Hospice & Palliative Care- Charlotte Region- 1420 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204 or

The current mayor, Will Sessoms, released a statement: 

As mayor of the city that Meyera Oberndorf loved so dearly, I am truly sorry to hear of her passing.  There is hardly a person who has lived in Virginia Beach or done business in our city over the last forty years who does not know the name “Meyera Oberndorf.”  She touched so many hearts and lives throughout the years that the name “Meyera” is instantly recognizable everywhere. 

The reason she touched hearts was because she cared passionately about this city and each and every one of its people.  There was no such thing as a “stranger” to Meyera, and she was most passionate and engaged when she was out in the neighborhoods and businesses, talking and listening to the citizens.   She knew every neighborhood, every civic league, every issue and every concern because she listened and she cared.   If you were having a meeting, a celebration or honoring someone, there was always a chair for Meyera – you knew she wouldn’t think of missing it. 

For 20 years as mayor, along with her service as vice mayor, a member of City Council and a member of the City’s Library Board, Meyera dedicated her life to the City of Virginia Beach and its people. She was our greatest ambassador, and as an elected official, she acted based on her love, concern and commitment to the cares and concerns of the people.  We all share great pride in her historic and distinguished career.

I personally enjoyed serving on the Virginia Beach City Council with Meyera. Virginia Beach made much progress as a result of her passionate leadership. She had a very special way of building consensus and of putting a smile on people’s faces.

Bev and I and our family offer our prayers and deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones, and share with them our belief that there will never be anyone like her again, and because of her dedication to this City and its people, she has chiseled her name and memory into our hearts and history.