The award recognizes Mrs. Oberlin for her activities in support of Irving, covering a variety of initiatives. The gathering heard from Marguerite Korkmas who praised Oberlin’s impact on the performing arts.
“If there was a happening in Irving, Mary was there,” Korkmas said. “She represented all of the arts beautifully.”
Mona Wyatt told of the impact Mary Oberlin had with the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, and brought a commendation from the State Convention, where Mrs. Oberlin was recognized for her 50 years of service with the organization. Included was a letter from the president of the National League of Women Voters.
“On behalf of the local league,” said Wyatt, “we are particularly proud of her for her energy, her steadfastness, her leadership and her encouragement.
“Thank you, Mary,” she concluded tearfully.
Chris Wallace also took the podium in praise of Mrs. Oberlin’s service with the Irving Heritage Society.
“She and Don are charter members of the Irving Heritage Society, and she was the second president,” Wallace said.
“Mary is what we call in the South a ‘Steel Magnolia’. She’s a true lady of grace.”
Her pastor at Plymouth Park UMC, Dr. Bill La Barr, described a growing friendship with Mrs. Oberlin, fostered over many dinners shared in her home.
“She challenged me one evening. She said, ‘Bill, when are you going to get involved in Irving?’ It provided the opening for her to share her passion with the issue of housing for homeless teens in the city.”
Dr. Lori Davis spoke at greater length about this initiative with La Buena Vida Foundation, telling the group that soon they will be celebrating their fourth high school graduate from the program, a young man who will be continuing on to college with a scholarship.
Davis closed with the lesson she learned from Mary Oberlin: “It’s not about results. It’s about relationships.”
When Mary Oberlin took the podium, she told the group a little bit about her personal life.
“When my mother was young, she wanted to be a teacher,” Oberlin said. “She even got a scholarship to college. But her father wouldn’t let her go.
“I was the first in my family to get a college education.”
Her stay at UNC-Chapel Hill brought Don Oberlin into her life, as well. They married in 1952 and are now celebrating their 60th anniversary.
Mrs. Oberlin’s personal philosophy is “Serve where you can, when you can,” she told the group.
“One last thing. Irving is a wonderful town. Let’s keep positive, and creative. And let’s serve it.”