This last Tuesday former Mayor Beverly O’Neill celebrated her 90th birthday.
A 90th birthday is cause for a party any time. This is a bit more though.
In fact, Tuesday should have been a citywide party, considering what Beverly has given to and done for this city. In normal times I think that would have happened.
Beverly has called Long Beach home for all of those 90 years (a year overseas for school doesn’t count.) And for the vast majority of those years, she has been serving the public in Long Beach.
Pretty much everyone knows about her 12 years as mayor, and the transformation she led. Some even know about her more than 30 years at Long Beach City College as a teacher, administrator and ultimately president/superintendent.
A case can be made that she began serving Long Beach in high school, when she helped her parents operate the first Alcoholics Anonymous office in the city. And there was her public singing gigs, too.
I could go on for pages. But back to the birthday party.
Mayor Robert Garcia tried. He announced Tuesday that he has asked Randal Hernandez (Beverly’s first chief of staff) to lead a committee “to honor her in a more permanent way in our city.”
Yes, there’s already the Beverly O’Neill Theater as part of the Long Beach Convention and Enterainment Center (thanks to the International City Theatre, the resident company there). But we’re talking something bigger here.
I’ve advocated before that the new Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge should be the Beverly O’Neill Bridge, and I’ll put that on the table again. The state has some say there.
How about a school? Beverly’s emphasis on education is part of her DNA. Or maybe the airport, or the new Civic Center.
Hernandez said pretty much anything is possible, because “Beverly left her imprint on so many parts of the city.” He says the recommendations will come back by the end of the year.
Beverly will live in my head forever. It should be the same for Long Beach. Let’s do this.