Gary Fazzino: 'Once a mayor, always a mayor' | November 2, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 2, 2012

Gary Fazzino: 'Once a mayor, always a mayor'

Longtime city councilman, known for his unflagging love of Palo Alto, dies at 60

by Gennady Sheyner and Jay Thorwaldson

Gary Fazzino, a two-time Palo Alto mayor who served 18 years on the City Council, died Tuesday evening, Oct. 30, at his Palo Alto home following a 2 1/2-year battle with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer.

Fazzino had been undergoing a new round of chemotherapy and tests and had returned home from a hospital stay last week.

Known for his intelligence, humor and wide-ranging interests, Fazzino, 60, had an unflagging love of Palo Alto and was recognized as the foremost expert on the city's political history. He had been involved directly or indirectly in local politics since the early 1970s, when he hosted Stanford University's KZSU radio broadcasts of council meetings. At the time of his death, he was working on a history of Palo Alto elections dating back to the city's incorporation in 1894.

He became one of the youngest elected leaders in Palo Alto history when he joined the council at 24 in 1977. He served on the council from 1977 to 1983 and from 1989 to 2001, and as mayor in 1992 and 1999. Since 2009, he was vice president for government affairs at Applied Materials.

Before that, Fazzino had spent nearly a decade as a vice president for Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard Co., working mostly in government and public affairs. Among the people Fazzino hired at HP was Sid Espinosa, who himself went on to join the council in 2007 and who served as mayor in 2011.

Espinosa, who sat next to Fazzino at HP, said it was "Gary's encouragement as a boss and as a community leader to get involved that led to me being a council member and eventually mayor."

He recalled carpooling with Fazzino to work. While Espinosa would drive, Fazzino constantly would be calling City Hall to talk to officials about building projects and to notify them of cars that had been parked on the street for too long. When Espinosa would remind Fazzino that the latter was no longer on the council, Fazzino would respond, "Once a mayor, always a mayor."

Espinosa, who often traveled with Fazzino and met up with him socially, said he has never known anyone with more love for his city.

"He was Palo Alto. He loved Palo Alto. When you love something, you think about it all the time, and you work on it all the time," Espinosa said.

Jay Gellert, CEO of Health Net and a close friend of Fazzino since the early 1970s, said Fazzino changed little in the decades since they first met. Even back when Fazzino was a young KZSU radio broadcaster, he would delve deeply into subjects he found interesting — from sports to theology — and became an expert on these subjects.

"He was a theology major at Stanford and knew more about the history of the Catholic Church than probably the pope did," Gellert said. "He knew more about the history of Stanford sports than anyone in the sports department."

Though Fazzino is well-known locally for his encyclopedic knowledge of Palo Alto (his political history includes, among many other things, an account of where on the dais every council member had sat), his passions extended far beyond city borders. He could, for example, name the top song in America for any month since the hits started to get tracked (Espinosa confirmed this skill). He could also discuss with great fluency an election in Italy or a Senate race in a distant state.

Gellert called Fazzino an "original," a "Renaissance man" and a throwback to an earlier, pre-Facebook era, when friendships were deep and enduring.

"He had old-fashioned, long-term personal relationships with people," Gellert said. "Everyone he knew, he knew forever. He was a great example of everything people valued about an earlier time."

Though his disease caused him pain, it didn't slow down his mind, said Gellert, who had spent last weekend with Fazzino.

"Though he was obviously suffering from a very bad disease, his mind was clear and straight, and he could still talk to you about who will be the quarterback for Stanford next year," Gellert said. "While his body was failing him, his mind was as sharp as it's always been."

Fazzino moved to Palo Alto with his family in 1967, following a year in Santa Clara after a cross-country move from Connecticut in the family station wagon. He attended Palo Alto High School, then a three-year school, and was elected senior-class president.

Fazzino's educational background spanned multiple subjects. He received a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Stanford University in 1974, followed by a master's degree in public policy from Occidental College and an MBA from the University of Washington School of Business. He also interned with the San Francisco-based Coro Foundation, studying public policy.

He was first elected to the council in 1977 but resigned after six years due to a job transfer to Seattle. He returned to the council following the 1989 election and served as mayor in 1992 and 1999. Fazzino was forced by term limits to step down from the council at the end of 2001.

During his tenure, he established meetings with the mayors of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto and the president of Stanford to address regional issues. He formed the Red Team in 1992 to aid East Palo Alto, which was then struggling to cope with a wave of murders. He promoted the ban on smoking in public places, the preservation of Arastradero property as open space, the launch of the Palo Alto Shuttle and the establishment of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority.

In recent years, Fazzino retained his deep engagement in the city's political life, often weighing in on local measures and providing analysis on election results. Over the past two years he promoted a shift from a one-year mayoral term to two years, opposed the measure that moved local elections to even years (the measure passed in 2010) and, most recently, backed the campaign opposing Measure C, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot and would allow up to three marijuana dispensaries to open in Palo Alto.

Fazzino was preparing to complete his political history of Palo Alto, a comprehensive account of every local election in the city's history and the issues surrounding each election. His unmatched familiarity with local history earned him the moniker of "unofficial Palo Alto historian."

Fazzino's death has prompted an outpouring of condolences from the Palo Alto community, with city leaders and residents sharing their memories of Fazzino. Councilman Pat Burt called Fazzino a "true icon in our community."

"His deep love for his family and for Palo Alto are a model for us all," Burt wrote on Town Square, the online community forum. "Gary has led us with his exceptional combination of passion, civility and selfless commitment. We will miss him deeply, but his inspiration will continue. There is only one 'Mr. Palo Alto,' and that is Gary Fazzino."

State Sen. Joe Simitian, a close friend of Fazzino and also a former Palo Alto mayor, said Wednesday that Fazzino and Palo Alto were a natural fit over many decades.

"He loved the town, and the town loved him," Simitian said.

Simitian and Fazzino had been best friends since they met in 1967 on their first day at Palo Alto High and discovered a mutual love of politics. They were roommates for a time after college.

Fazzino was a "wonderfully complicated guy, with wide-ranging interests, from his religious studies at Stanford to his deep interest in public policy-making and politics.

"He had a wonderful mix of old-school values and 21st-Century aspirations. He spent his career in the tech world, dealing with business around the world, but Palo Alto was his home, first and last.

"He was a hometown guy with worldwide sensibilities."

Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss, a longtime friend and council colleague, said he should be considered Palo Alto's "permanent mayor."

"He was one of the giants of our political world," she said of his local and regional impact.

Even those who disagreed with him regarded him with respect.

"Gary Fazzino was a worthy opponent," Palo Alto resident Craig Laughton wrote on Town Square. "He supported the (1999-2000) historic homes measure, and I opposed it. He told me that I was a lone wolf and that I should join the effort to compromise. I said that I would not because it was wrong.

"With a cheerful smile on his face, he said I would lose. Once my side won, he saw me and said, 'There are probably more lone wolves in Palo Alto than I realized.' I thought that was big of him.

"He was a stand up guy who could disagree, with a smile."

Debbie Mytels, a local environmentalist, called Fazzino "an amazing leader from a very young age, always ready to lend a hand, caring for many aspects of our community, from education to the environment and civic involvement."

"He leaves a legacy of service that will inspire many of us to further work for the common good," Mytels wrote on Town Square.

Fazzino is survived by his wife, Annette; their twin children, Matthew and Julia, 5; and by three siblings: Donna, an East Bay resident, Brian of Saratoga, and Wayne of Nevada.

Memorial services are pending.


Share your memories of Gary Fazzino, and those of other readers', on Town Square, the community discussion forum on Palo Alto Online.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner and Editor Emeritus Jay Thorwaldson can be emailed at and


Posted by Russell Hancock, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:19 am

Gary was an original, and there will never be another one like him. He was Palo Alto hero!

Posted by Amy Renalds, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

Gary was an amazing neighbor and friend. What he did professionally and politically was of the highest standards and regard - but WHO he was as a person, husband and father, is what I will always remember. To Annette, Julia and Matthew - may Gary's legacy give you peace in time to come. So so sorry.

Posted by Joseph Kott, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

This is sad news. Gary was an inspirational leader in Palo Alto and a good man. Gary loved Palo Alto and revered its history. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and many friends in Palo Alto and well beyond.

Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

I'm very sorry to hear this. RIP Gary. He worked tirelessly to make our town -- and the wider world -- a better place.

Posted by Mark Meyers, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

What a great guy, as kids, he always was nice to us when we were around playing with his brother Brian. Our condolences to his family. He will be missed by many.

Posted by Lakiba Pittman, a resident of Ventura
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:48 am

So sorry to hear about the passing of Gary.. I worked with Gary @ HP and also when I was Chair of the Human Relations Commission... a passionate one of a kind guy with a genuine heart and calling to serve. May he RestInParadise... Blessings, light and love to the family.

Posted by Debbie Ford-Scriba, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:11 am

I am deeply saddened to learn of Gary's passing. Gary was passionate, dedicated, inspirational, funny, smart & savvy - all the things that make a great leader. To say he will be greatly missed, mourned & remembered doesn't begin to touch the legacy he leaves behind for his family, the city of Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. RIP Gary Fazzino.

Posted by Diana Diamond, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:19 am

I knew and talked many times with Gary -- indeed he was "Mr. Palo Alto," the city's informal historian and his memory was a compendium of all that occurred in town.

When he got multiple myeloma, he talked with a friend of mine who also had it -- and because Gary was younger, he hoped he "survived" it. Unfortunately, he did not. It's a terrible disease.

Gary will be long remembered in town and my deep sympathy to Annette and his family.

Posted by John Hinton, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:28 am

I played softball with Gary on the "Palo Alto Civics" in a local rec league. He was all class.

Posted by John Barton, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:28 am

Gary was a kind and good man who loved Palo Alto and loved his family. I wish his whole family well during a difficult time.

Posted by DIXIE DAVISON, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:39 am


Posted by Alan, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

Gary also played soccer in the Palo Alto Adult Soccer league and was a great person be around wether he was on your team or the other team. Awesome person. RIP.


Posted by Kirk Hanson, a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

Gary was the consummate "honest broker" in local and national politics. We will miss him greatly. He always had the best interests of his community and its citizens in mind. And in every encounter, you felt you were important to him. He had great values and extraordinary gifts.

Posted by Dean Munro, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

What a loss - Gary was a great friend and an extraordinary leader with the San Jose Sports Commission whose mission was to bring major sporting events to HP Pavilion and San Jose. We had many a wonderful time traveling across the country meeting with sports leaders in an effort to try and convince them to bring their event to the Bay Area. Like everything else Gary did, he excelled in this role of sport ambassador. I will miss him dearly.

Posted by Leland Levy and Judy Huey, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

This is a great loss to our community. Gary was a thoughtful political leader and a wonderful person. He cared deeply about Palo Alto.

Our deepest sympathies go out txo Annette, Matthew and Julia.

Posted by Debbie Mytels, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

What a loss to our community! Gary was an amazing leader from a very young age, always ready to lend a hand, caring for many aspects of our community, from education to the environment and civic involvement. He leaves a legacy of service that will inspire many of us to further work for the common good. But how sad that his children will only have so few years of memories of their wonderful dad!

Posted by Bob Lenox, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

Very sad news. Gary will be sorely missed, and our hearts go out to Annette and the kids.

Posted by Ruben Barrales, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

Very sorry to hear the news.
Gary will be missed. Sympathies to his family.
A loss for the entire community.

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:58 am

Damn cancer! Rest in Peace Mr. Fazzino! Gone too soon.

Posted by Pat Burt, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 31, 2012 at 11:15 am

Gary has been a great friend to so many of us and a true icon in our community. His deep love for his family and for Palo Alto are a model for us all. Gary has led us with his exceptional combination of passion, civility and selfless commitment. We will miss him deeply, but his inspiration will continue. There is only one "Mr Palo Alto" and that is Gary Fazzino.

Posted by Susan Frank, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2012 at 11:16 am

I am so very sad to hear this. Gary was a friend and colleague for many years, and he will be missed. His humor, intelligence, and knowledge of Palo Alto was unparalleled. Rest in peace, dear Gary.

Posted by Ken Allen, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 31, 2012 at 11:26 am

What a shock. Sue and I knew Gary for over thirty years in professional, community, civic and personal matters. He was always a gentleman: thoughtful, honest, helpful, and a priceless asset to any venture he touched. He is missed already. Sympathy and prayers go out to Annette and his entire family.

Adobe Meadow

Posted by JIM BAER , a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 11:29 am

As with nearly all of our larger community, I am deeply saddened with the Gary's passing far too young and with so much more that he would have lovingly contributed to the betterment of our community and the betterment of his many, many friends, Gary was a giver. He
asked by his example and by his personal words that we all do better in our lives for one another and for the Palo Alto community that he so deeply loved.

I will take guidance and learn: we must all do our best all of the time beginning with today and filling every day.

My thoughts and prayers will be filled for Gary and his family.

Posted by Carroll Harrington, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm

There aren't enough words to express how sad I feel about Gary's passing so I will go with the eloquent words that others have used. I designed Gary's campaign graphics, and for the last campaign I found a really funky font named Gary. It didn't bother Gary one bit that his campaign ads and collateral had a playful look and feel! He truly was Mr. Palo Alto.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family. His children are lucky to have the treasure trove of Gary Fazzino history even tho it won't replace his physical presence. RIP, Gary.

Posted by Al Russell, a resident of Triple El
on Oct 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm

We have lost a part of the history of Palo Alto with the loss of Gary. He was an inspiration to all of us.

Posted by anotherloss, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm


Posted by chop keenan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Gary was the consummate citizen. Always thoughtful, engaged, and a wonderful demeanor. We are all better from knowing Gary Fazzino. He had a signature smile which always kept me guessing. What a cool cat. Prayers to Annette and the twins. Aloha, Chop

Posted by Dennis Cima, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Gary was a true gentleman, an expert in public policy and a guy with a big heart. I enjoyed our time together, my friend. My condolences to all of his wonderful family, friends and colleagues.

Posted by fellow Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Anytime we lose someone who loves our community this much and did so much to serve it, it's sad. So sorry for what he went through and for his family.

Posted by Camille Townsend, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Palo Alto has lost one of its true leaders - someone dedicated to the city, the schools, and his countless friends and supporters. Gary loved to tell fond stories of his PALY times, no doubt one of the reasons he always lent his good name and reputation to school measures, parcel taxes to Friday night lights. His love for the district grew anew with his twins now in kindergarten. Annette, we will miss Gary so much. Our hearts and our prayers are with you.

Posted by Sondra Zenger, a resident of Addison School
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Gary was a wonderful man with an absolutly amazing wife, Annette and two beautiful children. Let's make sure to keep them all in our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by Mike Potter & Cindy Chavez, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm

We will cherish the good humor and professional approach to all that Gary did in his life. He displayed such genuine pride in his home town. Gary could almost always find a way to help you know how Palo Alto would do something. He gave so much of himself to his city and our region. Silicon Valley has lost one of its most effective leaders.

Our thoughts are with his beloved family during this very difficult time of loss.

Mike Potter & Cindy Chavez

Posted by Larry Stone, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Annette you lost a wonderful husband and partner. Matthhew and Julia you lost a terrific father. We lost a great friend. I genuinely enjoyed every minute I spent with Gary.I will remember Gary everytime I sing "take me out to the ballgame."

Posted by Larry Klein, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Gary was a community treasure. He served Palo Alto well in so many ways, not just as a Council Member. But, most of all, he was a great person: bright,articulate, principled, enthusiastic, inquisitive. He was always a joy to be with.

My condolences to Annette, their twins and other members of Gary's family.

Posted by Boyd Smith, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm

As a member of the Palo Alto City Council I found Gary to be thoughtful, objective and reasonable. He may have not voted the way you hoped but you knew he didn’t carry partisan baggage that colored his reasoning. We need more politicians like Gary Fazzino.

Posted by registered user, Wynn Hausser, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Regardless of whether you were on the same or opposite side of an issue, Gary was always civil and willing to listen. His example is one we should especially remember during these contentious political times. He will certainly be missed and my heart goes out to his family.

Posted by Owen Byrd, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Let's honor Gary's memory by doing something he would encourage: Vote. And encourage everyone you know to do the same. Highest Palo Alto turnout ever was 89.8% in November 2008. Let's break 90% for Gary.

Posted by Chris Kenrick, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Gary felt lucky to have landed in his adopted hometown of Palo Alto and spent decades finding ways to pay it forward. He talked about wanting to make things even better for future generations -- a great inspiration and guidepost for the rest of us.

Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Gary Fazzino was a new mayor here in Palo Alto when I first moved here. He so impressed me, as a very astute person, politically, and because he was so young at the time (twenty-five, I believe). I always thought he would go quite far, but he always confined his interest to his adopted hometown, stayed active and involved in local politics.

It doesn't seem possible that he has left us...I kinda took for granted that at his age, he would always be here for us, as a natural leader who always did what was right, and you could count on that.

No words are adequate to convey to the family that the whole city feels great sympathy for their loss. They know what a treasue they have lost.

Posted by Peter Drekmeier, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Gary was one of those rare individuals who could bring most of the community together most of the time. His love of Palo Alto always came first, and he was objective and fair. I feel very fortunate to have benefited from his leadership. Today is a sad day.

Posted by Bob Kirkwood, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Having worked with Gary for 24 years at HP I can attest that he was not only a great citizen/leader of Palo Alto but also an excellent political/government policy analyst/strategist at all levels, a keen sports participant, data keeper and fan and thoroughly enjoyable person to be with. It is unlikely anyone else has called in to as many Palo Alto Council meetings from Washington State or DC or from Europe, Africa and Asia. Few others would arrange a business trip to Europe around a key soccer match in London. His love and dedication to Annette and the twins was wonderful to see. Goodspeed happy warrior.

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hi Gary: I hope that you can see this.

The first time I heard of you was when someone referred to you as a "real cool dude." I think you were going to Paly while I was at Cub.

On the couple occasions I sought help through city council on instances related to wildlife and environmental issues, you were more than helpful. You were approachable and easy to talk with.

Next - "Palo Alto" Black and White Ball with THE DOOBIE BROTHERS at the SAP Labs. We interacted again when I ran for council in 1997. The PA Daily News had an article and while there was no malice, a comment that they quoted you on (PADN was probably just stirring up pot to make the election a little more exciting) wasn't the most flattering about me, but before I even had a chance to open the paper, you called to apologize. And the night before the election, you told me that I had your vote. That really meant a lot to me and while I didn't win, to me, that topped off a good campaign. You really are a cool dude!!

And I can't forget when we had a candidate forum at Palo Verde Elementary School. Before the forum, I talked with Tru Love and said something about you and Liz Kniss being fairly aligned on the issues so I totally cracked up when Liz answered a question but then handed the microphone to you saying, "But Gary can amplify this a little further."

Suddenly, Tru Love rolls her eyes and blurts out, "LOVE FEAST!" Liz goes, "Pardon me!?" And I was just cracking up because that was the word I had used earlier in our telephone conversation and I couldn't believe she said it (of course, she hailed from Chicago and their city politics are a little different from Palo Alto).

Anyway, Gary, we never sat down and had a couple brew ha-ha's, but the next time I go out for a beer, I'll drink one for you and will kick around some stories of Palo Alto.

Andy Freedman

Posted by geraldine kinyon, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Bad stuff happens to good sorry he had to endure what he did in his last years. There could not be enough good to be said about Gary, he was was THE true visionary. Condolences to his family, his presence will be missed by many ~but his legacy will live on as a potential role model for the future generations.

Posted by Greg Schmid, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

It was just a couple of weeks ago, I had a nice chat with Gary. It happened to be a particularly busy day for me that involved City Council meetings and several election campaign gatherings. Gary commiserated with the busy day. But at the end, he looked me in the eye and said: "Don't let the busyness get in the way. It's really important to stop a few times during the day, take a deep breathe and remind yourself: 'I'm doing this because it's fun. Every single bit of it is fun.' For me, his enjoyment of the community is the real legacy he left Palo Alto.

Posted by Barbara Gross, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Gary's intoxicating commitment, caring and community service was palpable. With his incredible intellect, he could asses a situation in a split second and outline a plan to resolve the matter with acumen and humor.
I remember Sam Webster asking him what took him so long to fall in love - he melted into a teenage boy with a joyous grin... our love to you Annette & family.

Posted by david and dianne, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm

With tears in my eyes I type this sad Thank You Gary Fazzino.
Without your assistance, cars would still be roaring down
Ross Rd endangering our families. You were the first to listen
and help.
You also were a Palo Alto High Grad as myself, wife a neighbor
and friend. Thank you for your service, love and help for Palo Alto.
More than respectfully I say these last words;
Gary, you will always have a place in our hearts and minds to live forever
David and Dianne

Posted by Melissa Baten Caswell, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm

We will all really miss Gary.

He has been an inspiration to so many in this community and a model for positive civic engagement. He was a wonderful person, motivational in his outlook, a terrific adviser, and someone who made a difference for every person he knew.

My deepest condolences to Annette, Matthew and Julia.

Posted by katherine strehl, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I am shocked and truly saddened. He will be remembered for a long, long time. A good friend and colleague to many and cherished by his family.

My thoughts and prayers are with them

Posted by Signe Mayfield, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Our family is deeply saddened and sends our condolences to Annette. Gary was such a mainstay in the community and gave incredible number of hours to its benefit. It won't be the same at the soccer games without him.

Posted by Tony Spitaleri, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Gary Fazzino was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever met,
I had the good fortune of becoming one of his friends.
His first love was his family. He cared deeply about his community
and when he was on the city council he worked very hard for the citizens of Palo Alto, and he cared about the employees who served his citizens and he was
well respected by them.

Posted by Sirma Tzoutzova, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

My heart goes out to you, Annette! Courage, faith and hope in this saddest time.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 31, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Gary Fazzino was a worthy opponent. He supported the Historic Homes Measure, and I opposed it. He told me that I was a lone wolf, and that I should join the effort to compromise. I said that I would not, becasue it was wrong. With a cheerful smile on his face, he said, I would lose. Once my side won, he saw me, and said, "There are probably more lone wolves in Palo alto than I realized". I thought that was big of him.

A couple years later, I did join the local political process to support the Mayfiled deal. It won. Gary ran into me again, and said, "Craig, you see how important it is to join the process". I told him that it depends on the issue. I think he rolled his eyes, because he was a true believer in the internal circles of local politics. I doubt that I would ever get on board with him, in general, but he was a stand up guy who could disagree, with a smile.

He is a Palo Alto icon, whether one agrees with him or not.

Posted by Evelyn Richards, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Gary was a dear friend decades ago. Yes, he had a passion for Palo Alto, and as he boasted in his first council campaign, “his eyes (were) on its future.” What was impressive and endearing, even more, was how many, many passions Gary had. Many involved keeping in his head a dizzying array of statistics: His passion for baseball and its history, his passion for Casey Kasem and the Top 40, his passion for campaign slogans and buttons and anything political. And many involved people: His passion for his friends (especially Joe, Jay, Jeff, and Sam) and for his family, both close by and afar. Given his talents and enthusiasm, his thoughtfulness and charisma, it is no surprise that Gary evolved into a community -- and tech industry -- treasure. What a tragic loss.

Posted by Hal Plotkin, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Loren and I are so deeply shocked and saddened to hear this news. Gary was a treasure to his many friends. We met when he was a student reporter for KZSU covering the city council. A few years ago, I asked him what job he would want if he could have any job in the world. "Big city mayor," he replied without hesitation. "I can't imagine anything that would be more fun." He got as close to that as he could in his remarkable life. I hope Gary's family knows how deeply he was admired and appreciated by so many of us. I don't know if there are elections in heaven. But if there are, I'm quite sure Gary is already a prohibitive favorite.

Posted by Jim Webster, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 31, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Seems like only yesterday Gary and I were in a Pinter Play together in high school, The Collection (directed by Joe Simitian--yes, THAT Joe Simitian). Gary was a true intellectual, and was gracious enough to laugh at even my stupidest jokes. And he was a surprisingly effective actor.

Posted by Chris Gaither, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2012 at 1:15 am

I remember the first time I met Gary in June, 1998. We were both on a flight into Dulles, on our way to D.C. - he on business for HP, and for me, well my father had just passed away. I recall talking to Gary on the flight, and I knew that I had seen him somewhere. While talking, we both discovered that we lived in Palo Alto (a small world). I kept thinking to myself, I know this guy from somewhere. He simply introduced himself as Gary, no titles, or sub-titles, and he was more interested in helping me grieve about the loss of my father, than discussing anything about himself. At the end of the flight, as we exited the plane, he handed me his card, and told me if there was anything he could do when I got back to Palo Alto, please let him know.

Flash forward to 2009 when I ran for city council, largely because Gary openly discussed how important it was for residents to serve their city, I had of course come to know who this gent was who I first met on a flight 11 years prior. I enjoyed very much "re-meeting" him on a happier note at this time and I was very thankful during that time in 2009 for his willingness to give advice, and support.

Over the past few years, from time to time, I have seen him getting the local papers, or just moving about town, and he always, always would say, "hello", as if acknowledging me was the most important thing at that time. In fact, I recall once seeing him stop and allow a resident take a picture with him, as he was rushing to a business luncheon at Caffe Riace.

I am certain that Gary will be Mayor of Heaven, and is already leading that council. To his family, our thoughts are with you; and do know that Gary will always be with you, guiding your choices, and helping you through both the good and tough times. Peace be with you, Gary, and your family! Thanks for all that you have given Palo Alto, and for the unconditional support you gave me on that flight many years ago.

Posted by Oldbasse, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2012 at 3:09 am

For several seasons, Gary played in the backfield on "my" team in the P.A. Adult Soccer League. He was not a particularly good player, but always did his best to perform. He was a great team player: energetic, supportive, cheerful, optimistic and fair-minded. I only learned toward the end of our first season together that he was the mayor of P.A. Years and decades later, when our paths would happen to cross, he still remembered my name when saying "Hi" and, time permitting, dwell on some memories from our soccer days. His genuine civility and other personality characteristics were always sources of inspiration. A life too short, but well lived. A human being of the first order. Rest well, good buddy!

Posted by Patti Sliney Arabia, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 1, 2012 at 7:26 am

Beautifully written article about a good, good man. Thank you.

Posted by Yoriko Kishimoto, a resident of University South
on Nov 1, 2012 at 8:53 am

Gary was the keeper of Palo Alto's vision. He was always open to new people and new ideas while respectful of the past. A wonderful human being, father, husband, Mayor...

You will be deeply missed, Mr. Mayor --

Posted by Mary Ahern, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

I had the privilege of working with Gary on various issues during his terms as mayor and while he sat on the council. He was a wonderful man and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. Rest in peace, Gary. Godspeed.

Posted by Ron Andersen, a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

What an incredible loss. Having served on the Council with Gary for eight years, (1/1990-12/97) I can not recall an instance in which Gary was not on top of every issue, demonstrating extraordinary competence, often with insights not available in the "packet," and with a delightful sense of humor. We did not always agree, but he always demonstrated integrity, respect, and a commitment to the city he loved. It was an honor having the opportunity to serve with him. Palo Alto has lost a treasure. God bless his family.

Posted by Heather Barbour Gonzalez, a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

What terribly sad news. It's impossible to even imagine Silicon Valley politics without Gary Fazzino. He will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family.

Posted by Ken Sutherland, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Rest in peace, Gary. You were, and forever will be a true gentleman and one of the finest examples of politician/community servant anywhere. It was a pleasure working with you at HP, always accessible, always professional, always willing to share a laugh.

Posted by Richard James, a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

After working as a City of PA staff member for 30 years, I know how passionate Palo Altan's are about their city. Gary wore his passion on his sleeve. He was one of a kind. His early passing is indeed sad, but his legacy cannot be denied. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Gary was a consummate gentleman, a one-of-a-kind that will be greatly missed. Palo Alto benefitted from his having served in public life, and for so many years. He was an inspiration to many.

I remember he respected Community Engagement, listened with interest, opined with clarity, conviction & concern for the views of others.

Overall, his legacy is exemplary. My condolences go to his family for their loss. God rest his soul.

Posted by Peter Giles, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Gary lived the life of a good and great man. He gave each of us who were privileged to know him two of the most precious gifts we can give one another: friendship and service to the greater good. Gary has made me appreciate what he appreciated, and I too often took for granted, our beautiful, fascinating Palo Alto. Thank you Gary, for this. Thank you Annette for sharing him and his gifts with so many. We are all better for knowing and remembering this good and great man.


Posted by Mark Falconer, a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Gary was a great colleague, mentor, encourager and friend! May God comfort his entire family during this time of grief and bless them with an amazing hope for the future.

Posted by Ian Ryder, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 2, 2012 at 4:01 am

All these wonderful words say everything about Gary. I have posted Mountain View as my neighbourhood but I am actually a Brit, living in the UK, who was lucky enough to work alongside Gary at HP and we were good friends for the last 15 years. I cannot add to all the attributes, but only share Annette and the children's grief at the loss of a very special guy....I shall miss you very much, my friend....

Posted by Emily Renzel, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

I have known Gary since his days at KZSU and also had the pleasure of serving on the City Council with him. His passion for Palo Alto and his incredible encyclopedic knowledge of the town are unrivaled. Gary's intelligence and instincts commanded respect and allowed him to maintain a wide range of friendships in the community. I, along with legions of Palo Altans, shall miss him.

Posted by Karen (Lillard) Rodgers, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Palo Alto was very fortunate to have had the Fazzino family land here so many years ago. Gary was a dedicated man with at heart of gold. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Annette and the twins, and Donna, Wayne, and Brian. Rest in Peace Gary "Mr. Palo Alto" Fazzino...

Posted by Jeff Brown, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

There are certain people, the simple thought of whom evokes a smile. Gary was one, clearly for many. There is a void in Palo Alto today.

Posted by W. Jack Kidder, a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

In retrospect I was priveleged to serve as Gary's treasurer in his quest for a seat on the city council at the tender age of 24. Little did I know Gary's intense interest and quest for excellence in anything he pursued. He used his election as the springboard to a political career that unselfishly served the city he loved -- my hometown -- elevating it to a status where people worldwide sought to live. His legacy is the quality of life of this community he loved --a direct result of his stewardship. My deepest sympathy to his family in the loss of this marvelous individual.

Posted by Gary Ruppel, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Gary, as others have stated, was simply "in love with Palo Alto". My late father (Ray Ruppel) was the principal at Paly when Gary was the Student Body President. I recall dad remarking on how Gary was going to go places in this town if he "stuck around" after his studies.

I worked at HP and had many opportunities to engage with Gary. He was always helpful and he was a tremendous asset for HP in the government affairs arena. How he loved politics!

I'll miss him greatly as will all who had the good fortune to know him.

My greatest sympathy goes to his family.

Posted by Don Coughlin, a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Unlike most of you, I knew Gary the best during the first 15 years of his life before he left New England and headed to CA in 1967.

I'm one of Gary's cousins and I live in the Boston area, where most all of Gary's cousins are from. We were born the same year and grew up together at barbecues and other family gatherings.

I was stunned as were all of you at Gary's passing. And at first, I was also stunned by your outpouring above, but then remembering the kind of kid Gary was growing up, I guess I'm not surprised. Reading all of the comments above also makes me feel better about "all" the "Trivia" games me and my other cousins lost to him :>). He was the brightest of all of us, but as many of you alluded to, he never made you feel dumb or bad about losing.
RIP Cousin!
Love from all of us,
Don (Kathleen, Mary Ellen, Joanne, Suzane and Michael) Coughlin

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm

My comment is something like that of Chris Gaither above in that when I ran for City Council in 2009, as a relative unknown, I was at a kickoff event for another candidate and the emcee announced all the other known people there, and I was added as something of an after-thought but Gary happened to be standing nearby and he turned around and put out his hand and greeted me.

The rest of us will have to step it up a bit to try to fill that public service void.

Posted by Marcy Eastham, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I just leaned of Gary's passing, and am so saddened. I had the privilege of working with Gary as a member of his HP GA team. Being based in Oregon, I didn't get to see Gary all that often, but we spoke often and he taught me so much about what it takes to be a leader. He knew everyone, could speak on any topic, and proved that you could be a stand-up guy in the political arena.

Thanks for everything, Gary. You will be missed.

Posted by Cooky Avlakeotes Wall, a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2012 at 11:41 am

We had the privilege of working with Gary in the City of Palo Alto. He will, and should be, remembered as "Mr. Palo Alto." I still remember when he was Mayor in 1992, he was always prepared to represent the City in the very small ways as well as the very visible ways. He was so approachable and engaging in the midst of an incredible busy calendar. He relied on the City Clerk, Gloria Young, and her deputies to keep him organized. I've been away from Palo Alto for almost 20 years now, and still find myself saying, "if we could keep Gary Fazzino organized, we can keep anyone organized...if they are willing." He will be greatly missed. RIP Mr. Palo Alto.

Posted by Chief Robert Wall, a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2012 at 11:54 am

I am so sorry to learn of Gary's passing. I served as Fire Chief when Gary was Mayor and on the Council. One could not help but admire, appreciate and respect his love for the City and his desire to pour into it and its upcoming leaders through Leadership Palo Alto and other venues. He stood with me and others against racism in very visible ways. He will be missed. I suspect some great information about his leadership will be included next to his name in the History of Palo Alto. May Gary's family know the presence, peace and comfort of God in these days. -Bob Wall, Retired Fire Chief

Posted by Becky Bartindale, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Like everyone else, I was stunned and heartsick to hear of Gary's passing. I met Gary when he was on the Palo Alto City Council (second time) and I was at the Weekly. His immense knowledge, sense of history and grasp of details on pretty much everything was impressive, and I always liked how he came from a place that combined a deep command of the facts with so much heart and passion. His integrity and authenticity always shined through. I also had a sense that there was an impish sense of humor lurking close to the surface; if not that, certainly a good sense of fun. A few years back I saw a picture of him with the twins. I hadn't known he'd married and become a father, and I was just immensely happy for him. My heart goes out to his family and many friends for this terrible loss. How wonderful it is that he touched so many people in such positive ways.

Posted by Lisa Van Dusen, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 12, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Gary did indeed "pack the Palo Alto Pantheon" last week. Everyone's reflections on Gary and how he lived his life were inspiring and ultimately a challenge to raise the bar in our own lives. His positivity, generosity, passion for community and for learning remain a gift to us all. I had the honor of knowing Gary for about 30 years - first when I was trying to convince the City Council to grant the Cable Franchise to subscriber-owned Cable Co-op and then through years of various community involvement. At last week's celebration of Gary's life, I learned a lot more about him as a person. Annette, Jay, Anna and Joe all did a magnificent job of capturing what is uniquely Gary. When I think I see him from across the room (which I keep doing lately), I will smile, laugh, and stand up just a little bit taller. He was an old soul.