Harold “Rusty” Fairly, 83, former Santa Barbara City Councilmember, City College Athletic Director, and successful baseball coach, died this week after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s.
As a councilmember, Fairly was a moderate Republican, known for an abiding spirit of openness and congeniality that only occasionally would be interrupted by flashes of temper and impatience. Fairly and former Santa Barbara Mayor Harriet Miller famously got together every Tuesday morning before council meetings at Mel’s for drinks, though both insisted the only beverage consumed was coffee.
After being termed out as councilmember in 1995, Fairly served as staff briefly for former Congressmember Michael Huffington, Santa Barbara’s compulsively secretive representative. Fairly recalled asking Huffington where he was calling from only to be told such information was “strictly need to know.”
Fairly didn’t stay long with Huffington and later ran successfully for another council term in 1999, making him the first councilmember to come back after being termed out. Fairly, a former college football star, played one season in the Canadian Football League — as quarterback — where he suffered hits of such intensity that his pupils remained differently dilated for the rest of his life.