Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library
Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans
Arthur J. O'Keefe (1876- )
Arthur Joseph O’Keefe was born in New Orleans on November 8th, 1876, a son of Arthur O’Keefe and Sarah Hanley O’Keefe. He graduated from St. Alphonsus High School in 1892 and on November 14th, 1901, married Miss Mamie McDonald of New Orleans.

He was engaged in the coffee business, as head of the firm of Arthur J. O’Keefe Teas & Coffees, as an importer and roaster and was also an active Vice-President of the American Bank & Trust Co., a director of the Lafayette Fire Insurance Company and of the Mutual Building and Loan Association.

As Commissioner of Public Finance under Martin Behrman, he automatically became acting Mayor upon Mayor Behrman’s death and was nominated Democratic candidate at midnight February 17, when no other candidate qualified with the Orleans Parish Democratic Committee. The winning of the Democratic nomination in New Orleans, is equal to the election so that to all practical effect, Commissioner O’Keefe was now New Orleans’ next Mayor, making the election a mere formality.

On Marcy 15th, Arthur J. O’Keefe of the Tenth Ward officially took office as Mayor of New Orleans. His inauguration was most impressive and colorful. The council chamber could not hold the crowd and the flowers which began to arrive at the City Hall since early in the morning overflowed the spacious parlors. The most beautiful ones were selected by the Mayor and after the ceremonies, they were taken by him to the Metairie Cemetery and placed on the grave of Martin Behrman.

His term as mayor was marked by frequent spells of illness and in view of this he was granted a leave of absence on July 1929. T. Semmes Walmsley who was then Commissioner of Finance, took over the office as acting Mayor and held it until his own election in 1930.

It was during Mayor O’Keefe’s administration that the controversies over the Watson-Williams Bridge and free bridges over the Rigolets and Chef Menteur took place; it also witnessed the Police Chief Healy-Ray tangle. Mayor O’Keefe waged a bitter battle against the ninety cent gas rate for New Orleans.

The first piling for the Municipal Auditorium was driven by Mr. O’Keefe and it was during his regime that plans for the Criminal District Court Building and Parish Prison were drawn and accepted. He also served as president of the Choctaw Club.

Upon going into temporary retirement, his place in the Tenth Ward was taken by his son, Arthur J. O’Keefe, Jr. Mr. O’Keefe is the father of seven children. His home is at 1018 St. Mary Street.


Members of the O'Keefe Administration
January 12, 1926-February 14, 1930

Name Office Notes
Ryan, Walter T. Auditor
Umbach, Henry N. Board of Assessors
Batchelor, J. M., Dr. Board of Health
Gelpi, Paul, Dr. Board of Health
Loubat, Walter Board of Health
Gambel, Joseph Board of Health
Robin, William H., Dr. Board of Health
Evans, John M. Chief Engineer Fire Department Chief Engineer
Montz, A. S. City Architect
Cahn, Bertrand I. City Attorney
Danneker, John W. City Chemist
Metz, Abraham L. City Chemist Succeeded by Danneker
Mastainich, Geo. L. City Electrician
Dilzell, W. A. City Electrician Succeeded by Mastainich
Vallas, Bryson City Engineer
Pohlmann, Mary, Mrs. City Hall Archives Custodian
Legier, Robert City Notary
Legier, Woodie J. City Purchasing Agent
Hill, Thomas J. Clerk of Commission Council
Walmsley, T. Semmes Commissioner of Public Finance
Desmare, Henry C. Commissioner of Public Finance Deputy (Accounts)
Daly, Wm. S. Commissioner of Public Finance Deputy (Treasury)
Schlesinger, L. E. Commissioner of Public Property Deputy
Klorer, John Commissioner of Public Property
Habana, Paul B. Commissioner of Public Safety
Dielenschneider, R. A. Commissioner of Public Utilities Auditor
Hall, William Commissioner of Public Utilities
Roeling, George, Dr. Coroner
Taylor, Robert M. Delinquent Tax Department
Reilly, James L. Deputy Commissioner of Dept. of Public Works
Coleman, John P. Secretary
Earl, George G. Sewerage & Water Board Superintendent
Ray, Theodore A. Superintendent of Police Superintendent

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12/9/2002