Longtime NorthBay Supporter, Board President B. Gale Wilson Dies Dies

Posted: September 10, 2020

A leading visionary for NorthBay Healthcare as well as for the city of Fairfield, B. Gale Wilson, passed away Sept. 1 in his Auburn home at the age of 91.

During his 32-year tenure as Fairfield city manager, B. Gale joined what was then the Intercommunity Hospital board of directors in 1964.

In the 26 years that followed, he helped develop the Fairfield hospital as a modern operation; he worked with Vacaville community leaders to see construction of its first hospital in 1987;  helped establish the first civilian neonatal intensive care unit in Solano County; saw construction of two medical office buildings; improved the financial situation of the organization; approved the establishment of a hospice program; and completed a corporate reorganization.

He also hired Gary Passama, who went on to serve as president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare for 35 years, until he retired in 2017.

B. Gale stepped away from the NorthBay board of directors in 1990, but always kept NorthBay close to his heart. He and his wife, Carolu (who passed away in January 2019), attended the retirement festivities at Green Valley Administration Center to wish Gary well.

President and CEO Konard Jones remembers the event well.

“B. Gale pulled me aside and told me, ‘It’s your turn to lead our health system and care for the community.’ His legacy lives on through the work of our physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers.”

Konard called him a pillar for the community and for NorthBay.

“He is an enormous part of our history,” he said. “He saw the necessity of advancing medicine through an independent, locally controlled health system that would ensure health care for all who needed it, regardless of their ability to pay.”B. Gale Wilson (right) looks over construction plans with Bill Hawn, then President of NorthBay Health Advantage and the NorthBay Healthcare Services transition team.

Gary also gave credit to B. Gale for laying the groundwork for NorthBay Healthcare.

“It would not have happened without Gale’s vision,” he said. “He was an enthusiastic advocate for Fairfield, and he was an enthusiastic supporter of building the Vacaville hospital in 1987. Both communities will continue to benefit from his wisdom and his legacy.”

Gary described B. Gale was a trusted mentor and friend.

“During the interview process, he made it clear the board was looking to improve health care in Solano County,” he recalled. “Shortly after I was hired, I presented an outline of the considerable resources I knew would be needed to make us an innovative leader in health care. With his wholehearted support as board chair, we laid the foundation for what NorthBay has become.”

There are still markers of B. Gale’s influence around NorthBay Medical Center. His image is included in a number of historic photos on the NorthBay Way Wall and he is recognized as one of the organization’s pioneers. In addition, the street in front of the hospital bears his name.

Deborah Sugiyama, who retired as president of NorthBay Healthcare Group in 2015, said B. Gale was integral in setting NorthBay’s direction and ultimately determining what could be accomplished.

“My experience with Mr. Wilson was that he had an incredibly keen eye for business and challenged me to always think more broadly about what NorthBay could achieve,” she said. “He was never coy about offering his opinion, yet he was incredibly thoughtful and listened to all aspects of the situation. He was such a kind man and had a big smile for everyone.”

Former Fairfield Mayor and NorthBay board member, Gary Falati called B. Gale’s death the end of an era.

He told the Fairfield Daily Republic that when he visited B. Gale earlier this year, there were tears in both of their eyes.

“I think we both realized we were in the fourth quarter of life,” he said. “It’s a sad day.”

Gary was a 36-year-old mayor when he met the former city manager.

“There were many life lessons,” he recalled. “I remember asking him why he spent so much time at the hospital, on the board. He told me it was the right thing to do. I never forgot that. Later, he signed me up to serve on the board and he was right.”

Since then Gary has put in more than 20 years on both the NorthBay Healthcare Corporation Board and the NorthBay Health Advantage Board and never looked back. “It is still the right thing to do,” he said.


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