Francis Fife

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Francis H. Fife (D)
Fife, F..JPG
Fife, ca. 2010

Electoral District At-large
Term Start 1974
Term End 1978
Preceded by Francis Fife
Succeeded by Frank Buck (D)

Term Start 1972
Term End 1974
Preceded by Mitch Van Yahres (D)
Succeeded by Charles Barbour (D)
Electoral District At-large
Term Start 1970
Term End 1974
Preceded by Robert S. Johnson
Succeeded by Francis Fife

Biographical Information

Date of birth Francis Harrison Fife
Charlottesville, Virginia
Date of death October 16, 2015
Charlottesville, Virginia
Spouse Virginia Byrd Fife; Nancy O'Brien
Children Richard
Alma mater University of Virginia
Rutgers University
Profession Non-profit professional

Francis Harrison Fife (1920-2015) was the mayor of Charlottesville from 1972 to 1974. Fife was married to Nancy O'Brien[1], the first female mayor of Charlottesville, and was the son of former city councilman Shelton Fife.

He died on October 16, 2015 at the age of 95.[2]


A lifelong Charlottesville resident and a University of Virginia graduate, Fife often said that he only left his hometown to attend graduate school and to serve his country in World War II. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1941.[2] And after the war, he earned a graduate degree in banking from Rutgers University. In 1948, Fife was the chairman of the Charlottesville Albemarle County of the United World Federalists and an advocate of world government.[3] Fife followed in the footsteps of his father, Councilman Shelton Fife, and served six years on the Charlottesville City Council. A city park, a street, and a neighborhood are named in honor of the Fife family.[4] Fife’s main issue as mayor was affordable housing. To further his goal of making Charlottesville a livable city, he established the Charlottesville Housing Foundation (now the Piedmont Housing Alliance) and the Rivanna Trails.

1950 election

Fife ran for Council in the 1950 election and had the endorsement of the Independent Citizens Association. He came in third behind William R. Hill and Gus K. Tebell. [5]

1970 election

He was asked to run by the Democratic Party when he was elected in 1970, alongside Charles Barbour.

Other leadership positions in regional government

For a time in the early 1980's, Fife served as Chairman of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission[6]. He is also a former chair of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

Community service

Fife has been the member of governance board of several government agencies and non-profit organizations. They include the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Housing Authority, the Charlottesville Housing Foundation and the Piedmont Housing Alliance. He is also a founder and former President of the Rivanna Trails Foundation[7]. He is also on the Board of Directors for the group Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population.

At a City Council public hearing in October 1983, he spoke in favor of issuance of $9.5 million in bonds for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to pay a private developer for what would become the Omni Hotel. At the time he was chair of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Training Commission. [8]

Downtown Mall vote

In 1974, Fife abstained from the vote that created the Downtown Mall because of his job as vice president of the Peoples Bank.[9][10].

Frances Brand portrait

Fife is one of several people commemorated by the late 20th-century artist Frances Brand as part of her Firsts series.[11]


  1. 'Mayorsville: Here, everybody's a mayor', 10 Aug. 2006. Lisa Provence. The Hook. 2 May 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Web. Charlottesville community icon Francis H. Fife dies, Bryan McKenzie, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, October 16, 2015, retrieved October 18, 2015.
  3. Web. Fife Addresses Two Scottsville Groups, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, April 13, 1948, retrieved January 15, 2017 from University of Virginia Library.
  4. Dixit, Rachana. "City Street Named after Former Mayor | Daily Progress." Home | Daily Progress. 25 July 2010. Web. 26 July 2010. <>
  5. Web. Hill and Tebell Win Council Seats;Vote Exceeds 2,500, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, June 14, 1950, retrieved June 13, 2017 from University of Virginia Library. Print. June 14, 1950 page 1.
  6. Charlottesville City Council Minutes, 4 Aug. 1982. City of Charlottesville, Virginia. Retrieved 12 Jul. 2009.
  7. Welcome to Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population. Web. 15 Aug. 2009. <>.
  8. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, October 24, 1983.
  9. 'Mayorsville: Here, everybody's a mayor', 10 Aug. 2006. Lisa Provence. The Hook. 2 May 2009.
  10. Tubbs, Sean J., and Brian A. Wheeler. "Former Councilors Share Memories of Early Days of Downtown Mall." Audio blog post. Charlottesville Tomorrow. Charlottesville Tomorrow, 13 Apr. 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. <>.
  11. Branigan, Michelle Marie (December 1998). A Biography of Frances Brand, an American Painter and Social Activist (PhD). Indiana University.