A legacy that lives on in Va. Beach’s library system

Oberndorf Library (WAVY/Jason Marks).

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Former Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf accomplished many things during her time in office, but one of her biggest passions was for the city’s library system.

The last chapter of Oberndorf’s life has been written, but the book is filled with hundreds of pages.

“She was a big believer in libraries. She loved reading,” librarian Denise Walker said. “She understood the importance of early literacy.”

She learned that lesson as a young girl growing up in the Newport News. That’s where she developed a love affair with books.

“From that time on, she was a big reader and a believer in learning,” Walker said.

In 1966, she became part of the Virginia Beach Library Board. Over next 40 plus years, she worked to make the city’s library system something everyone could be proud of.

“She was a supporter,” Walker said. “She encouraged us. She was someone that our director worked very close with as they planned libraries and new facilities.”

The central library, now named after Oberndorf, opened in 1988, the same year she became Mayor. Inside the library, her memory lingers. There are trophy cases dedicated to the former mayor on one side of the library. On other other side is a slide show of the unforgettable moments of Mighty Meyera. In the middle is the step stool she used so her five-foot frame could see over the podium.

“We really miss her, because you have to realize she was a library customer,” Walker said. “She was always here for events and she always told the best stories.”

“Meyera Oberndorf loved the city of Virginia Beach and she loved the citizens of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Will Sessoms said.

The story of her life is now being told by those who knew her best. She worked side-by-side with current Mayor Sessoms for more than decade.

“I don’t think anyone could represent the city as well publicly as Meyera,” Sessoms added. “The bottom line was that she was open, honest and people could see that.”

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