Sunday, May 3, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Gary Falati: The unofficial ‘Mr. Fairfield’

16 gary falati 1

Former Fairfield mayor Gary Falati stands in his office in Fairfield, Wednesday. Falati has lived in Fairfield most of his life and also served on the city counsel and school board. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page B5 | August 16, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — “Mr. Fairfield” is not a title given out in a local beauty pageant and in fact, it isn’t an official title at all. A personalized calendar given to near-lifelong Fairfield resident Gary Falati dubbed him as such after listing his numerous accomplishments.

Falati was on the Fairfield City Council for 19 years (1974 to 1993), 16 of them as mayor. As mayor, he was instrumental in bringing the mall to Fairfield, which many point to as the time when Fairfield was “put on the map.” Falati also served two terms on the Fairfield-Suisun school board.

He has been a local businessman for 30 years working as a State Farm insurance agent, and in the past was a teacher, football coach and principal at his alma mater, Armijo High School.

Falati, who will turn 74 this month, grew up in a very different Fairfield than the one he later served politically.

“I was president of the Future Farmers of America at Armijo my senior year of 1958,” Falati said. “I had 100 head of breeding sheep and that’s how I paid my way through college. I sold registered Suffolk blackface ewes and rams and they went for like $100 a head. That was a lot of money.”

Falati comes from families with deep roots in Fairfield: the Lambrechts, Bells and Chadbournes. After being born in Vallejo, his family moved to Fairfield when he was 2.

From 1942 to 1945, Falati’s family lived on a ranch where CVS Pharmacy on Travis Boulevard is now located. Some of his various uncles’ homes are still standing, including the house that is now Archway Recovery Services on the corner of Travis Boulevard and Union Avenue, as well as the one that is now Lam’s Acupuncture on Travis Boulevard.

In 1951, Falati, then a sixth-grader at Fairfield Elementary School, attended the Fairfield City Council meeting where the donation by his uncle, Lee Bell, of 10 acres for the development of a city park was approved – narrowly.

“It was a split vote, 3-2. Two council members felt it was too far out in the country,” Falati said.

During the summers of Falati’s youth, most kids had jobs cutting fruit in Suisun Valley. In sixth- through eighth-grade, Falati had a shoe-shine stand in Allan Witt’s downtown barbershop.

As a teen in the 1950s for fun, it was all about cruising.

“You would wash your car all day then drive by Manuel Campos’ Food Fair and look at your reflection in the big glass window and see your car with the spinner rims,” Falati said.

Former Fairfield City Manager B. Gale Wilson hired Falati as recreation department supervisor and he worked as a lifeguard at the Fairfield plunge and did tours at Rockville Hills Park among other duties from 1968 to 1974.

“In 1974, my friend since I was a child, Tommy Hannigan, suggested I run for City Council and take his seat because he was running for the board of supervisors,” Falati said. “We knocked on 8,600 doors and children of potential voters knew me from the plunge and from playgrounds. The kids helped me to get elected because they vouched for me to their parents.”

In 1976, when he was the vice mayor, Falati had an opportunity, through a foreign exchange program at Chico State, to go behind the Iron Curtain.

“We spent three weeks in the Soviet Union studying comparative economic systems. We stayed at Red Square in a hotel with 5,000 rooms and you didn’t get to keep your keys. You checked them in with the person at the end of the hall,” Falati said. “We figured everything was monitored. You didn’t travel from city to city unless you had permission. What a life experience.”

On the City Council, Falati sought counsel from his elders and took lessons to heart. Once he came to a council meeting directly from coaching football at Armijo and was wearing shorts. Mayor Manuel Campos gave him a dressing down and he never made that mistake again.

These days, candidates seeking local political offices often seek Falati for his counsel.

“I give people a read and tell them what I think is in their best interest to do. I don’t just tell them what they want to hear,” Falati said. “I had a guy ask me what his chances were if he entered a race and I told him he had two. He said, ‘I know: slim and none.’ I told him no, none and none. He said, ‘Do you have to be so damned honest?’ ”

Besides the park named for his uncle Lee Bell, the trust of his cousin Irving Lambrecht’s estate donated 80 acres to the city of Suisun City to create the Irving H. Lambrecht Sports Complex on Scandia Road. In 2010, Falati himself became the third member of his family to be honored with a park. The 6.8-acre, $1.1 million Gary Falati Neighborhood Park on Falati Lane in the Gold Ridge neighborhood was dedicated that year on Sept. 11.

The title of Mr. Fairfield, unofficial as it is, makes Falati a bit uneasy. He points to so many who went before him, including Arnie Digerud, Loyal Hanson, Frank Cruz, Allan Witt, Tom Hannigan and others.

“You grow up in a community and the community matures and hopefully you mature a little bit as a person with it,” Falati said. “I know my roots here and they are strong.”

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Eugene BorghelloAugust 16, 2014 - 9:40 am

    Please, come back! We need you

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • P.J.August 16, 2014 - 1:28 pm

    Before Gary became Mayor, that position was generally held by the highest vote by public or by council. I think...Gary was the first publicly elected Mayor. Is that right??? Happy Birthday on August 21st to you, Gary...YES! Come back!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeAugust 16, 2014 - 3:35 pm

    Actually, Falati was the second. Bill Jenkins was the first.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • P.J.August 16, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    I also forgot that Gary appointed my husband to several positions such as the planning commission, and he took over as 2020 Vision Chairman....thanks for the "memories" Gary!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tom ChalkAugust 16, 2014 - 3:54 pm

    Well-deserved recognition. And as mayor and school board president, he ran public meetings better and more efficiently than anyone else I can recall in the last forty years or so.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
3rd-graders study nature at Fairfield park

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Pros have tough time with financial news

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: C1

 
Colliers releases Solano-Napa commercial real estate report

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Fairfield industrial sector remains hot

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: C1

 
Solano County to add War on Terror names to memorial

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Calico’s legacy lives on to this day

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
I’m asking for your forgiveness

By Steve Kiefer | From Page: D2, 3 Comments

 
Snow Mountain hike set on Mother’s Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Library continues spring book sale

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Vacaville library plans Cinco de Mayo event

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Knitters group about to start in Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Sacramento rally to support child advocacy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Airmen from Vacaville finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

 
Band festival brings sweet music to downtown Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
CASA of Solano seeks volunteers

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A13

 
Public hearing set before Mental Health Advisory Board

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A13

.

US / World

Britain says hello to newest princess

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
‘Be Kind to Animals’ celebrates 100 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: D6, 1 Comment

 
NYPD officer in critical condition after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Drop out thinks he can get you a tech industry job

By Bloomberg News | From Page: A9

 
Damage soars as Oakland demonstrations turn violent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 4 Comments

Japanese PM sees ‘alliance of hope’ with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Plans are at odds over fate of medical marijuana

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

‘Huggy’ returns to Capitol after 12-year hiatus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Sea Lion found wandering the streets of SF

By Bloomberg News | From Page: A11

 
Portman doing balancing act with re-election, trade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Need for cybersecurity experts met by trend in cyber camps

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Lincoln’s hometown re-enact his funeral

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Pope Francis set to name Serra a saint in DC ceremony

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
ISIS kills 25 captive Yazidis in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Living

US colleges bringing in chaplains to serve the nonbelievers

By The Associated Press | From Page: D2Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Community Calendar: May 3, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Today in history: Sunday, May 3, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Love Your Lines: stretch marks go viral in support of women

By The Associated Press | From Page: D4

My 67-year-old husband won’t stop viewing porn on his computer

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

 
Crabapples come in many varieties (some aren’t even crabby)

By The Associated Press | From Page: D4 | Gallery

Horoscope: May 3, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

 
T. Coraghessan Boyle wins $30,000 for short story writing

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

On his list: John Oates of Hall & Oates has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

 
Illness memoir ‘The Iceberg’ wins Wellcome Book Prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: C5

 
.

Sports

Mayweather wins unanimous decision over Pacquiao

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders head to Travis AFB for Day 3 of NFL Draft

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Favorite American Pharoah rallies to win Kentucky Derby

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Grizzlies, Warriors ready to meet in conference semifinals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders fill more holes on final day of draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Odor’s RBI single in 10th lifts Rangers past A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Michael Allen leads Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Posey, Crawford homer in Giants’ 5-4 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers fortify offense on third day of draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Murray wins twice for BMW Open final against Kohlschreiber

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jeff Gordon leads Hendrick in pole-winning run at Talladega

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kreider’s early goal leads Rangers over Capitals in Game 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Thompson ricochets to share of LPGA Tour lead with Park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Joey Logano uses big block on last lap to win Xfinity race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Paul lifts Clippers past Spurs, 111-109 in Game 7

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

McIlroy in a fight with Casey until darkness gets in the way

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

Starbucks breakdown shows how registers have evolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Offshore wind energy sector off to slow start in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Recalls this week: Kaleidoscope toys, batteries

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
A chip off the old Croc: The return of the ugly shoe

By Bloomberg News | From Page: C3, 1 Comment | Gallery

Review: Getting your Apple Watch? Here’s how to use it

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
US seeks to compensate victims of Sudan, Iran and Cuba

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
.

Obituaries

Sherman Elwood

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

 
George Benjamin Kimes Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

Gerald Mc Devitt

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

 
Fred L. Kirk

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

Marcello T Gemignani

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

 
Lois Geraldine Johnston

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A13

.

Comics

.

Summer Sunsational 2015

Solano County Fair: Something for everyone

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM6

Oldest parade marches to oldest fair in California

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM10

Get ready to get down to the music at Dixon fair

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM13

Cars, cars and more cars

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM18

Farmers markets, produce stands offer regional bounty

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM19

Golf, anyone? Lots to choose from

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM20

More wine! Solano offers much to tease the palate

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM22

Get back to nature across Solano County

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM23

Mondavi Center brings world-class performances to region

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM29

Go behind the scene on Anheuser-Busch brewery tours

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM30

Try your luck at area casinos

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM37

Fair fun continues during summer in Napa

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM45