Memorial service set for Vic Fazio

The late Congressman Vic Fazio.

The public is invited to attend a “Celebration of Life” for former California Congressman Vic Fazio, who died of cancer on March 16 at the age of 79.  The event will take place on Friday, June 17, from 11:00am to 1:30pm at the UC Davis Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Fazio, a Democrat, represented the Sacramento area for 10 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning in 1978.  He rose to become Democratic Caucus chairman, and led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for four years.

Among the projects for which he provided funding in the area were mass transit, military construction and the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, which was dedicated by President Clinton in 1997.

Fazio became a party leader known for taking on “thankless tasks,” as the Washington Post once put it.  These included dealing with controversial Congressional pay raise and ethics issues. He was widely viewed as a contender for the House speakership.

Fazio, who had served on the Appropriations Committee, pushed to direct federal dollars to California and his district.  Among the projects for which he provided funding in the area were mass transit, military construction and a large wetland and wildlife preserve west of Sacramento known as the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, which was dedicated by President Clinton in 1997.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), delivered the lead eulogy for Fazio at a memorial service held at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, on April 28.  Hoyer spoke of his abiding friendship with Fazio and said, “Vic was a fierce fighter for the institution, and he worked to make it more ethical, more transparent and more modern…Vic understood what Congress could do to help make Americans’ lives better.”

Fazio had served in the California State Assembly before winning his House seat.  In 1998, after serving for 20 years in Congress, he declined to seek reelection.

He then spent over two decades as a high-profile lobbyist, most of it with the firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.  He also remained active in political and charitable causes he believed in.  His activism included what the publication Roll Call described as his ongoing “copious political donations.”

Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area , dedicated by President Clinton.

At his death, Fazio was involved in projects to reform Congress and the federal budget.  He was on the board of the Prevent Cancer Foundation and was serving as chairman of the board of the National Parks Conservation Association.

He is survived by his wife, Kathy Sawyer, of Arlington, VA.; his daughter Dana Lawrie and stepson Kevin Kern, both of Sacramento; his stepdaughter Kristie Kern, of Portland, Ore., and three grandchildren.

Fazio’s first marriage, to the former Joella Mason, of Sacramento, ended in divorce. Their daughter Anne died in 1995 of complications from leukemia.  His second wife, Judy Kern, whom he married in 1983, died in 2015. He married Sawyer in 2017.

The June 17 memorial service will be relatively informal, with designated speakers as well as an open mic period, and will be followed by a reception with light refreshments. The event’s address is 523 Mrak Hall Drive in Davis, Calif., 95616

Contributions in Fazio’s memory, in lieu of flowers, can be made to: the Anne Noel Fazio Memorial Scholarship Fund No. 111829 at UC-Davis, UC Davis Advancement Services, 1460 Drew Ave., Suite 100 Davis, CA 95618; the National Parks Conservation Association, 777 6th St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C., 20001; or the Prevent Cancer Foundation, 1600 Duke St., Suite 500, Alexandria, VA 22314.

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