Fairfield visionary B. Gale Wilson dies

The City of Fairfield sadly announces the death of former City Manager B. Gale Wilson on September 1, who died at his home in Auburn early Tuesday morning. Often referred to as “the chief architect of Fairfield,” Wilson served as city manager for 32 years, from 1955-1988. He was only 26 years of age when he entered the position, the youngest city manager in the country at the time. 

City Manager Stefan Chatwin stated, “The projects that cross my desk daily are the direct result of the influence B. Gale had on our employees in serving the community. Keeping Fairfield’s quality of life in mind, providing housing, attracting economic growth, and protecting its surrounding open spaces, the City would not be what it is today without his tremendous influence. We all get to enjoy the fruits of his labor every day in this great city. He has left quite a legacy in Fairfield.” 

B. Gale Wilson is often described as a visionary with a long list of accomplishments during his tenure with the City. One of his early projects was arranging for Fairfield to purchase Waterman Park, a federal housing project that was built in the 1940s for military personnel. The funds that those residents paid the City in rent for decades helped fund the project that eventually became the Fairfield Civic Center complex, a 33-acre compound featuring a figure-eight pond with a fountain. 

Other city-defining sites that bear B. Gale Wilson’s stamp are Rockville Hills Regional Park, Anheuser-Busch, Jelly Belly, and Solano Town Center mall. Fairfield Mayor Harry T. Price recalled, “B. Gale had the vision of what the Solano Mall could become and how it was so important for the economic wellbeing of businesses in Solano County, particularly the City of Fairfield. B Gale was the architect of what Fairfield has become over the years.”

Wilson also accomplished the near impossible feat of annexing Travis Air Force Base in a matter of 26 days, after he and then Fairfield-Mayor Arne Digerud traveled to the Pentagon in March of 1966 to obtain final Air Force approval. The Travis annexation increased Fairfield’s population from 28,000 to 44,000 and doubled its acreage. Travis Air Force Base remains the largest employer in Solano County today.

Former City Manager Sean Quinn stated, “I was hired by B. Gale Wilson and I was always impressed with his visionary outlook. B. Gale was always thinking of the future. In retirement, he would come by City Hall to visit and we would sit and talk about what was happening. He would get excited when talking about a project and he would often say ‘this still gets my juices flowing’. B. Gale was a great mentor and an extraordinary individual.”

The City of Fairfield extends its sincere condolences to the entire Wilson family. All City flags will be flown at half-staff in honor and memory of B. Gale Wilson.

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