Here is the article from The Oregonian

Famous for his "Leave It to Beaver" role,
the actor struggled with addiction while
living in Portland


09/26/03

TOM HALLMAN JR.

Demons chased Stanley Fafara from Hollywood to Portland, tormenting him while he spiraled into a hand-to-mouth existence on the street. Over time, he lost everything -- family, money, dignity -- to heroin, pills and booze. But friends said that Fafara -- a child actor who had a continuing role as "Whitey" on the "Leave It to Beaver" television show -- was at peace with himself Saturday when he died.

Fafara, 54, had been admitted to the hospital in late August for surgery on an intestine constricted by a hernia. He suffered complications from the surgery, including a blood clot in his leg. He underwent two more operations, both of which weakened an already weak body. Years earlier, Fafara had contracted hepatitis C while using drugs. The surgeries strained his liver and kidneys, all of which shut down during the past several weeks. On Saturday, he slipped into a coma, and the life-support machines were removed.

Memorial service Oct. 2

A memorial is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at St. Elizabeth Church. Arrangements for a private funeral are pending.

During the past few years, Fafara had put his life in order. He'd reconnected with a long-lost daughter in New Mexico, learned he was a grandfather and shared details of his struggle in an effort to help other people stay clean and sober.

There was a time when Fafara was, in every sense of the word, a star. But that was a character who vanished long ago. What remained was a man finding his way one day at a time. He died in a hospital room surrounded by friends who saw in him a strong, spiritual and caring man with no pretense.

"He knew he was dying," Jeff Adler said. "Even with all the tubes running in and out of him, he kept his humor up until the end, talking about getting a good steak dinner the day he got out. He was OK with what was going to happen.

"He wasn't a business success, and he certainly had turmoil in his life," Adler said. "But he accepted life on life's terms, and he was a generous person. He always looked on the bright side."

His role on "Leave it to Beaver," which aired from 1957 to 1963, made Fafara a celebrity. In a December 2002 story in the Oregonian, he described his life a "blessing and a curse." He remembered walking around with $16,000 in his pocket but discovered that fame was even more powerful than money. He wondered whether his friends liked him because of who he was or what he was.

Break-ins for drugs In the early '80s, he started breaking into California pharmacies for drugs. He was arrested after his seventh robbery and sent to jail. When he got out, he worked as a roofer, waiter and janitor. He drifted into dealing drugs, and the profits supported his habit.

He and his girlfriend took a bus to Portland. Within an hour after the bus pulled into the Portland depot, Fafara and his girlfriend rented a motel room, shot up heroin and crashed. The plan was to get high one last time and then go make something of life.

Instead the addiction took hold, and the two of them lived in the motel for two years. He lost nearly everything. His parents, the last people who really cared about him, were dead. He'd alienated his siblings, who washed their hands of him.

About the only thing he had left was "Whitey." His screen name was always good for a drink or drugs. He'd tell people that he'd been on "Leave It to Beaver," but he'd lost most of his teeth and weighed less than 130 pounds, and hardly anyone would believe him. To prove his background, he'd tell them stories about the show and the actors, what it was like behind the scenes.

In the summer of 1995, he wanted the pain to end and prayed for help. He checked in at a detox center, stayed for two weeks and graduated to a clean-and-sober house for drunks and addicts. He lived there for two years.

"Most people stayed a year, but I figured I needed a double dose," Mr. Fafara recalled in the story. "I haven't had a drink since Aug. 22, 1995. I don't know why it took. I should be dead. I had three overdoses in two months and was hanging on for dear life. My associates, most of them are gone. I know they didn't want to go, but they did."

His friends remember Fafara as a gentle soul.

"There were seven of us there at his bedside in the hospital," Bentley said. "We were all holding hands. He was a good man who had the ability to see beyond people's sordid pasts and see the good in everyone. He will be missed."