Opal David

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Opal David

Electoral District Jack Jouett
Term Start 1976
Term End 1978

Biographical Information

Date of birth 1906
Date of death August 1999
Place of birth Michigan
Spouse Paul T. David

Opal D. David (1906-1999) was the first woman elected to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. She won election to the Jack Jouett Magisterial District as a Democrat in 1975, and served until the end of 1977. Among her legacies was a desire for county policy to be communicated in plain English.[1] While on the Board of Supervisors, she sat on the steering committee for the comprehensive plan revision.


Opal David worked for the brand-new Tennessee Valley Authority in 1934, introducing workers to the utility's public works water projects. During World War II, she worked in administrative positions for the federal government. After the war, she went into management consulting for the Carnegie Corporation and the American Council on Education. In 1959, she edited the Council's conference report "The Education of Women: Signs for the Future."[2]

David moved to the area with her husband, economist and University of Virginia political science professor Paul T. David, around 1965 from Washington. She made operational recommendations for the McIntire Library that year.[2]

In 1968, David served on the President's Commission on the Status of Women. She was invited by President Kennedy to attend a ceremony at the White House on October 11, 1968.[2] The commission investigated questions regarding women’s equality in education, in the workplace, and under the law, and made recommendations to rectify sex-based inequalities.

David was the first woman to serve on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, winning the 1975 election at the age of 69. She described this achievement as "the last gasp of a fairly lengthy career." She ran on a “plain English” policy, advocating for the use of simple language in policies and even Board papers that a layman of any level of education would be able to understand. She wanted to ensure that everyone had the ability to understand what the Board of Supervisors did and wanted to do. During this portion of her career, the Board's largest concern was the rapidly expanding population of Albemarle County and the effects it could have. The Board began to prioritize zoning and planning. David was an ex officio member of the Albemarle Planning Commission. She pushed on both committees for "orderly control of population and commercial expansion."[3]

In 1977, David did not seek reelection, citing her husband's retirement from the University of Virginia. She was described by coworkers as "invaluable" and "hard to replace." She was promptly elected president of the Northwestern Virginia Health Systems Agency.[4]

Mr. David died in 1994. Mrs. David died at the age of 92 in August 1999.[5]


The University of Virginia library has an archive of her papers from professional life spanning from 1933 to 1990. Her papers include historical documents about the end of annexation, the community water supply plan, and the creation of Albemarle County's Comprehensive Plan.[6]

Frances Brand portrait

David is one of several people commemorated by the late 20th-century artist Frances Brand as part of her Firsts series.[7]

External links


  1. Web. County of Albemarle, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Minutes, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Albemarle County, December 21, 1977.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Web. Mrs. David Asked to the White House, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, September 26, 1963, retrieved July 22, 2022.
  3. Print: David Was First Woman Elected, , Daily Progress, Worrell Newspaper group 1976, Page .
  4. Print: Supervisor Opal David Won't Seek Re-Election, Peter Basque, Daily Progress, Worrell Newspaper group March 15, 1977, Page .
  5. 'In Memoriam: Former Albemarle Supervisor Dies at 92', George Loper's website (original reporting from Daily Progress)
  6. Web. A Guide to the Opal David Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, retrieved April 29, 2014.
  7. Branigan, Michelle Marie (December 1998). A Biography of Frances Brand, an American Painter and Social Activist (PhD). Indiana University.