Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Donald Mehlburger

Mayor D L MehlburgerOn October 19, 1937, future Little Rock Mayor Donald Lee Mehlburger was born in Little Rock.  His parents were Max A. Mehlburger and Mary Lou Covey Mehlburger who also had another son Max C. Mehlburger.

Mehlburger’s first run for the City Board of Directors was in November 1968 when there was an open seat.  At the time he was 30, the youngest one could be and be elected to the City Board.  He lost that race, but eight years later ran again.  This time Mehlburger won the race.  At his first meeting on the City Board, Mehlburger was selected as Mayor of Little Rock by his colleagues.

Prior to running for the City Board the second time, Mehlburger had been appointed to the Planning Commission.  Planning and growth were two important emphases for Mayor Mehlburger, in addition to public safety.  He stressed the importance of quality growth in the edges of the city and a push for a revitalized downtown.  Mayor Mehlburger was also an advocate for public mass transit.

Due to business interests taking up too much of his time, he resigned from the City Board a few months before his term was up.  But he remained engaged in civic affairs.  Historic preservation was important to Mehlburger.  In addition to owning historic properties, he was a founding board member of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.  He had graduated from the University of Arkansas and was a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.  He had also been active with the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) and Rotary Club 99.

Mehlburger died on May 25, 1992 and was buried at Mt. Holly Cemetery.  His grave marker features an engraved sextant which pays tribute to his career as an engineer.  It also notes that he was Mayor of Little Rock.  Mayor Mehlburger was survived by his wife Susan and his three children – Donald Lee Jr., Harry and Katherine.