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BoE member Barbis passes away; Rowayton man served City in many areas

Then-Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis takes a selfie, May 29, 2019, at the Ponus Ridge Middle School construction site. Barbis was the sparkplug behind new school construction, then-Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski said. (Harold F. Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. — Board of Education member Mike Barbis has died.

The regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting began just after 7 p.m. Tuesday, as planned, but BoE Chairman Colin Hosten instantly announced that it was being cancelled “due to some very unfortunate circumstances.” He didn’t elaborate. An earlier BoE Committee meeting had been held as expected.

NancyOnNorwalk learned that Barbis, 59, had died suddenly. There are no further details.

A pre-meeting discussion on the Concert Hall stage in June 2017: from left, then-Norwalk Board of Education Vice Chairman Mike Barbis, Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton and then-BoE Chairman Mike Lyons.

“Mike was a colleague and a friend.  He died too young.  I will truly miss him,” former Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said in an email.

“Mike dedicated a lot of his life to the City of Norwalk, into the students of Norwalk, and did everything he could to try to make the public school system the best in the state,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “We have made great strides under his tenure.”

Barbis, a Rowayton real estate agent, was also a Sixth Taxing District Commissioner, holding the post for nearly 16 years. He was active with the Rowayton Hose Company, Rowayton’s volunteer fire department, and was former Commodore of Rowayton Yacht Club.

Barbis once spoke to NancyOnNorwalk about spending part of his childhood in France. His mother, Patricia Barbis, was in the foreign service. An ad promoting Barbis as a real estate salesperson said he spoke French, Spanish and English.

Barbis called himself “one of the top agents in my home market of Rowayton,” in the ad. “As a builder and developer myself, I have extensive knowledge of not only the real estate market, but am very familiar with local construction and zoning codes, costs and regulations,” he said. “My clients and customers remain loyal to me for my high level of service, my depth of knowledge, my extensive connections, my seasoned experience and my extra attention to detail.”

His renovation of a home he owned on Pine Point Road was once featured on the television series, This Old House. That home was eventually foreclosed on.

In 2019, the Rowayton Condo Association said he owed more than $1 million in property taxes. Barbis disputed that and said if he weren’t spending so much time working for free on the Board of Education, he’d have time to clean it up. The case is no longer listed on the State judicial website.

Barbis began his education involvement as a room parent and worked his way to PTA president. He was first elected to the Board of Education in 2011 and was in his third 4-year term. Barbis was elected BoE Chairman in 2017 and held the post for two years. He had previously served as vice chairman.

Then-Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis signs his name to a support beam at the Ponus Ridge Middle School construction site, May 29, 2019. (Harold F. Cobin)

Controversy marked his time on the Board of Education as he invested many volunteer hours in the hard work of city government. Barbis lead the Facilities Committee that formed a plan to build two new schools and renovate two existing school buildings within five years; only one of those new schools has been built and only one renovation is underway, with delays stemming from his disagreements with South Norwalk leaders.

He also led the Finance Committee for a time, sometimes issuing public insults to Board members he disagreed with, and appearing to be tight with former Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski.

Just last week, with his power greatly diminished, Barbis made a motion to reverse the schools’ bell time schedule to what it had been in 2019-20. Board members who had said they were glad they didn’t have to vote on the issue that evening then went ahead and voted to approve the change.

Barbis’ later years on the Board sparked passionate protests due to emails he had written becoming public, including one in which he urged Board members not to attend an annual Norwalk NAACP fundraising banquet. Norwalk NAACP members, who do not live in his district, fought his reelection in 2019 and repeatedly called for him to resign, to no avail. The animosity reached a crescendo late that year in what may have been the most raucous City Hall meeting ever, prompted by an email in which Barbis ranted in frustration over the difficulty to get a South Norwalk school built, in the most explicit words available, calling South Norwalk leaders “scum.”

In that email, he also said, “I lost another friend in his 50s yesterday” “Life is too short.”

Lyons said Tuesday that he was stunned to learn Barbis had passed away.

“He was full of energy, skiing in the mountains, traveling to Europe, just this past year,” Lyons said. “He was a real force of nature in Norwalk.  He loved the city, loved the school system, fought hard for what he believed in.  Mike wore his emotions on his sleeve, he was passionate, and as former superintendent Steven Adamowski said to me as few minutes ago, ‘while not always politically correct, he was always righteous’.  Norwalk’s new schools, built or planned, are a testament to Mike’s often unacknowledged energy.  Other people will show up at the ribbon cuttings, but Mike did more than anyone in Norwalk to actually get those projects done – to the benefit of thousands of Norwalk’s children, now and in the future.  When the artificial kerfuffles of email controversies are long forgotten, those schools will stand as a monument to Mike’s love for his city.”

Norwalk Public Schools Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams released this statement, early Wednesday:

“The Norwalk Board of Education and Norwalk Public Schools are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Mike Barbis. A member of the Board of Education since 2011, Mike was a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for Norwalk students and schools. During his tenure on the Board, he served as chair of the Finance Committee, Negotiations and Personnel Committee, and Facilities Committee, where he helped develop and oversee a new construction and renovation plan for the school district. He served as chairman of the Board from 2017-2019. Mike was also an active parent volunteer at Brien McMahon High School, as well as a tireless community volunteer in Rowayton and beyond.

“Our hearts go out to all of Mike’s family and friends. Arrangements are pending. We will keep our school community informed of any plans and memorial details that the family would like to share.”

An earlier version of this story was posted at 7:22 p.m. and then removed to give authorities time to attempt reaching Mr. Barbis’ family.

Story updated at 3 p.m. to include statement from Norwalk Public Schools.

51 comments

Jane walters September 22, 2021 at 6:20 am

I’m in shock. As a colleague Mike was the best and freely offered his support and knowledge. Mike was a great person and he will be terribly missed. RIP Mike.

Adam Blank September 22, 2021 at 7:18 am

Mike was a good guy. Way too young. Some of the things he said were cringeworthy and he was known to loose his cool but I never doubted he truly wanted the best for our schools and the 6th TD. He will be missed.

Highland Avenue Neighbor September 22, 2021 at 8:05 am

Jeez NON, your story on Mikes passing is so incomplete. You forgot to check and tell us if Mike ever had any library fines, maybe you could have added a few more links. Sadly there isn’t a current or recently elected official (mayor, council, BOE, state rep etc) in Norwalk that did more to imagine and advocate for a neighborhood school for the children in South Norwalk. Our city will miss his leadership on issues like this.

Thankful Norwalker September 22, 2021 at 10:31 am

Rest in Peace Mike Barbis.

I will forever commend you for not shying away from making the touch decisions and ALWAYS having the best interest of fellow Norwalker’s in mind.

Anyone with a brain should be thankful for all you have done for the children of Norwalk, in spite of the huge amount of resistance you faced from politicians and leaders whose only care is getting reelected.

Naomi September 22, 2021 at 10:34 am

Mike was a good and honorable man. If you needed anything all you needed to do was ask and Mike would be there. He always tried to do the right thing even if it upset the status quo. I had the pleasure to serve on the DTC District E with Mike. He will be missed. Rest In Peace Naomi.

Fran Di Meglio September 22, 2021 at 11:16 am

I would have appreciated an article without a rehash of the past. I didn’t know Mike well only through Planning Commission business; but he called my sister during my hospitalization with Covid. May he rest in peace.

Andy glazer September 22, 2021 at 11:48 am

What we all can agree on is that Mike dedicated a tremendous amount of his life to the service of Norwalk in a selfless manner. He will be remembered for his passionate belief in this city and its a true loss in a very large way.

Andy Glazer

Garrett Friedrichsen September 22, 2021 at 12:28 pm

What a shameful hit piece full of subtext and 1/2 truths. The quote(s) from Mike Lyons who sat on the opposite side of the political isle from Mike Barbis should say enough about the kind of person Mike Barbis was and how much he was/is admired.

@Nancy, you should only hope others don’t attack you once you’ve passed away.

Stuart Garrelick September 22, 2021 at 2:44 pm

I never met Mr. Barbis but I did hear him speak as a BOE candidate for election and I was present at the “raucus” and shameful BOE meeting in City Hall where Mr. Barbis stoically fielded the slings and arrows hurled at him with considerable class. I remember thinking it takes a well tempered man to survive being a man with a temper, especially in our new found woke culture. I always thought him to be a man of principle who could be his own worst enemy at times.
He tried to serve our city and our youth to the best of his ability and therefore he will be missed.

Jody Sattler September 22, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Mike was an amazing civic advocate and worked tirelessly for the people of Norwalk. He will be greatly missed. We will have to find more people to step up and fill the voids that were created with his passing. Articles like this do not encourage people to get involved. Mike knew everyone, you could have easily found many people to give you specific examples of how he helped them. This article is shameful and disrespectful to Mike and anyone who steps up to make Norwalk a better place.

Ron September 22, 2021 at 3:56 pm

Mike dedicated so much of himself to make Norwalk better for all the students in Norwalk. I will miss him dearly, God bless him and his family during this sad time. Mike was passionate about serving Norwalk to make it better for all. Thank you Mike for all you did and for caring when many would have given up and stopped caring. Shame on Nancy on Norwalk for the way this article was written.

Patrick Steele September 22, 2021 at 5:27 pm

It is sad that your reporter chose not to find out about all the good things Mike did for everyone in 06853 as well as the rest of Norwalk. Mike, our Mayor, was a giant of a man and like all men he had his flaws but to focus on those and not añal the positive things he has done does no favors to your publication. Poor reporting and editing.

Joanna Cooper September 22, 2021 at 7:33 pm

This news is so tragic because Mike was far too young to leave us. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

Mike Barbis will be remembered by many for his intelligence, passion, perseverance, commitment to service and most of all his courage. He had a huge heart, generously volunteering his time over countless years to benefit students, the city of Norwalk and our future. We owe him much gratitude.

He never got the proper credit he deserved for the positive impact he had and this article doesn’t do his spirit justice. He did come up against resistance but that’s because he was most often the brave lone dissenter. He wasn’t afraid to fight for what was right even when he was unsupported and targeted. He had an unfathomable courage. He was not just a visionary, but did more work than most and he challenged the status quo like no other. He pushed hard for the changes Norwalk needed and the positive difference he made should not be underestimated.

John O'Neill September 22, 2021 at 10:10 pm

To put it simply Mike was loved by his supporters and seriously disliked by his detractors….
I hope I go out that way.
A person who doesn’t have an opinion and abstains from the tough questions has no backbone.
Like him or not the guy had backbone
I can only hope someone says the say about me upon my death.
Kudos on making a HUGE difference in spite of the headwinds he faced

Mike P September 22, 2021 at 11:52 pm

Wow. I always thought humanity was a core principal of good journalism, especially when reporting on ones death. I guess that no longer applies. Shameful and disgusting.

Victor Cavallo September 22, 2021 at 11:53 pm

Can’t dare to be politically incorrect with an honorable eulogy for a dedicated, celebrated and revered civic leader who died suddenly and tragically; right Nancy? NoN is gone; it’s off the rails.

Jay Alexander September 23, 2021 at 7:01 am

What a disrespectful story about a fellow human being who gave his all to Norwalk. Mike was a tireless volunteer for our children and truly cared about our city. I’ve re-read the story over and over to see if It was me…Nancy and crew, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Perhaps some “stories” should be published about you and your personal finances. How pathetic!

Lady Driver September 23, 2021 at 7:28 am

Agreed. Spiteful and petty article. I didn’t know Mike, but i could tell that he was WYSIWYG and obviously made an impact on our community.

Abby Van Slyck September 23, 2021 at 7:31 am

Mike was a tireless advocate for our city and it’s children. He was a father, son, brother, uncle and friend to many around the world. I am so very saddened that NON took a Death Announcement and used it as an opportunity to write pointedly unkind things under the guise of “journalism”. There is a time and place for everything. This was not it.

Nancy McGuire September 23, 2021 at 8:29 am

Rest In Peace, Mike Barbis. We should all be so selfless with our time and talents. I am inspired by his ability to stand firm in his determination to make Norwalk’s schools the best they can be. He has been a good neighbor, always kind, funny as hell, and a loving friend to many who will miss him.

Nancy’s article is a good example of why we don’t need partisan politics on the local level. In the end, we all need to remember that we make up a community, and we all want the same
outcomes, even if we “duke it out” in the evening meetings.

Mack September 23, 2021 at 9:50 am

Is anyone, in anyway saying that NON reporting might take on a slightly bias view of people, places & things at times?

Rowayton neighbor September 23, 2021 at 10:25 am

Living in Rowayton all 19 years of my life, I speak for myself and my generation of residents when I say that Mike Barbis was the backbone of our town. He was the definition of a “giver”, spending all of his time on improving Norwalk’s schools, parks, and advocating for others. Mike was a familiar and friendly face to all, and always remembered everyone by name. I have many fond memories of him passing out candy to be thrown at the Memorial Day Parade, helping clean up Bayley Beach, and just stopping to talk to everyone sitting outside 101 on a summer evening. These experiences that make growing up in Rowayton so special are memorable in part for the tireless work that Mike poured into our community, despite the criticism and backlash he faced.

Mike Barbis deserves the utmost respect for his life well lived, and articles like this one show the exact opposite.

Abby Van Slyck September 23, 2021 at 10:27 am

Mike Barbis was not just a tireless servant for our community, our children. He was a father, a son, brother, uncle and friend to many around the world. I’m so disappointed that NON would use a Death Announcement as means to discredit someone under the guise of journalism.

erin foley September 23, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Shameful! Just shameful! Lets set aside the facts that Mike Barbis did so much for so many for years and years. Let set aside the assumption that journalists are suppose to be unbias. How about showing just a bit of class and decorum? A human being has suddenly passed away and you feel the need to write a hit piece just hours after he died. The only positive that can come from this article is that you have given people confirmation there is no need to read Nancy on Norwalk.

Isabelle Hargrove September 23, 2021 at 12:51 pm

I am appalled at this piece of trash. It is sickening. It speaks volumes about the writer. The lack of judgment and compassion is dumbfounding. We should be so lucky to have more people like Mike Barbis dedicating their lives to our schools and community. This will forever define in my mind what Nancy is truly about.

Andy Meyerson September 23, 2021 at 1:21 pm

Nancy, you should be ashamed for publishing a piece like this. Not just poor journalism, but insensitive and tone deaf…what’s the end game for publishing this?

Gina Pisano September 23, 2021 at 3:59 pm

Nancy’s trash journalism continues – shameful! RIP Mike – Norwalk/Rowayton have truly lost a great leader!

Andrew September 23, 2021 at 4:57 pm

A disgraceful article about a person who just passed. Someone who spent hours upon hours volunteering for our community – whether you agreed with him or not he deserved better than this. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Nora King September 23, 2021 at 5:21 pm

Mark is turning over in his grave. He would be appalled at the lack of journalistic integrity. Your husband was a journalist. He would never have published this trash. This blog is turning into trash news.

Elaine Falkenberg September 23, 2021 at 6:20 pm

I’m not sure what is more shocking – that Mike Barbis has died, or this horrific article I just read about him. What is wrong with you Nancy? Obviously you had issues with Mike and should have excused yourself from writing anything about him, especially when he just died suddenly way too young. Disgraceful.

Elaine Falkenberg September 23, 2021 at 6:24 pm

Why don’t you read the post his son Skyler wrote on Facebook about Mike. The son whom he adopted at the age of 10 years old who is now in his 20’s. I don’t know how Mike had the energy to do all he did. No one can compare, and though no one is perfect, this is not the forum to re-hash issues from years ago. So disrespectful, disgraceful, and plain wrong.

Denise DeMarsh September 23, 2021 at 6:30 pm

I moved away from Norwalk 11 years ago, so maybe I shouldn’t even comment, especially since I didn’t know Mr. Barbis. But this piece was shameful. I thought NON had higher standards.

Paul Lanning September 23, 2021 at 6:57 pm

I admired Mike Barbis. Maybe I just missed it, but I don’t recall any of these negative commenters speaking in his defense after unruly out-of-towners disrupted the BOE meeting and demanded his ouster.

James September 23, 2021 at 10:27 pm

This article, while unique, does not offend me. I didn’t know Mike but respected his courage and passion which I wouldn’t know much about without reading NoN. It is sad to see the community stand up for someone who not long ago was despised for something, unfair at the least. Rushing to judgement is the new normal.

This is a true loss for the Norwalk community. Mike was one of the only few who would stand up and speak out, the city faces risk without him. RIP and thank you Mike.

Kathleen Marsh September 23, 2021 at 11:09 pm

Shame on you! Previous comments said it all.This was a mean and disrespectful piece of trash. If you can’t say something nice about someone, especially someone who just died, then don’t say anything.And, you should publically apologize.

Daniel Barber September 24, 2021 at 9:26 am

Nancy
You do not know Mike Barbis and you should publicly apologize to all those that do and find your published commentary insulting. One thing about Mike is that he would not tolerate cruelty wherever it resided. Hopefully in the days to come, you may learn of the extraordinary life of Mike that was taken too soon and the generous nature of a man that only wanted to be of help to others. Norwalk was only a small part of Mike’s footprint of goodness and is a better place because he had no personal agenda or ego to satisfy. Many people that were touched by Mike’s life are searching the internet for some details of his sudden death and this is what they find. Mike Barbis always found a way to do the right thing, I’ve known him over 40 years. Its your turn.

Cherie Burton September 24, 2021 at 9:46 am

Mike was and will remain in my memory as a star. While we sometimes differed, respect and a long friendship trumped any issue. We was essential to the success of the Saving Farm Creek Campaign always with his can of Diet Coke even at breakfast meetings and a support to Shakespeare on the Sound. He will be missed.

Tim Widmer September 24, 2021 at 10:11 am

This was NON-sense. A friend called me to tell me about this article. The comments speak for themselves. Just simply disrespectful.

Constitution State September 24, 2021 at 2:03 pm

I never met Mr. Barbis so I have no personal agenda here. That said, this is the mst shameful hit job I’ve ever read. Nobody with a shred of decency or humanity could pen this disgrace. Will never read this column again.

Margaret September 24, 2021 at 3:51 pm

We have lost one THE BEST MOST PASSIONATE NORWALKER’S. Mr Barbis always had time for his constituents. He always fought the Good Fight even though it often put him politically on outside. He didn’t EVER just blindly his party he fought for what was right always no matter what. Rest In Peace Mike. Thank You

Elaine Falkenberg September 24, 2021 at 4:08 pm

Nancy,
Here is what The Rowayton Civic Association wrote about Mike. Maybe you can get some pointers.
I am still so outraged by your article, and you. . This man has a son sad a family.
Absolutely shameful. I’m shocked that it’s still up.

Mike Barbis was our hero.

The Rowayton Civic Association would like to honor and thank a man who devoted his life to making Rowayton thrive. A selfless leader, neighbor, father, civil servant and friend, whose dedication to the well-being of Rowayton, the Sixth Taxing district, and all of Norwalk will far outlive his physical presence.
Mike fought for our kids without any agenda other than making our schools– and all that they provide — accessible to students of all abilities and backgrounds. He spent a decade on the Norwalk Board of Education, fighting to preserve and grow the greatness of our school system. He remained an active advocate at the highest levels, even long after his son had graduated, probably because he considered all of us — and all of Rowayton — family too.
We are forever grateful for his leadership as Commissioner of the Sixth Taxing District. He represented all of us, and our varying viewpoints, with determination and patience, and yes — even humor. The amount of work he put into this role is often overlooked but we appreciate it and will not forget it. Time spent updating Facebook and NextDoor to let us all know when a garbage day had changed due to a holiday or a reminder to shovel your sidewalks was second nature to him. We looked to him for leadership and endless historical knowledge of issues in our town. He was the original champion of getting the big trucks off our streets, making town safer for everyone. He spent countless hours in town meetings making sure that 06853 was recognized and heard. It didn’t hurt that he had such a distinctive and booming voice.

He suited up and rushed to our homes when fires or other disasters threatened his neighbors. He fundraised, grilled hotdogs, and recruited to make our Rowayton Volunteer Fire Department the undeniable gift that it is to our town. But, of course above all, along with his brothers in the Company, he risked his life for us. Thank you.

When the pandemic threatened lives and livelihoods, he was a steady hand working to keep everyone safe. He offered the RCA counsel on our events, and advice on how we could still proceed, and best support the community — he always looked for ways to fight for those who needed fighting for.
He was the consummate partner, ensuring that the Sixth Taxing District and the RCA were always in lockstep. Mike served on the RCA in the early 2000’s, a stunt that many say ignited his passion for community service. He was our “go-to” for questions — and favors — around the clock. He always listened. He never judged. He was often the most experienced, and yet the most humble person in the room. As our president, Heather Drstvensek, recalled, “he would call me to give advice — or to ask for it. And that made him the most likeable person.”

He made us all feel welcome. Whether he helped us land in this special town in his role as a real estate agent, or simply greeted us at town events once we were here, he set an example of kindness — a trademark of Rowayton. Because it was a trademark of Mike Barbis.

He spent his last night with us, celebrating 100 years of the 6TD and bidding farewell to summer, a summer which, tragically and unexpectedly, would be his last. On that now-fateful Sunday evening, from the stage his booming voice spoke of our shared history, and his infectious smile made us all feel at home and grateful as the sun set on Bayley Beach.

Finally, he made us laugh. As we work to heal our breaking hearts, and look for ways to honor his memory, we will all remember that all he ever really wanted us to do was just show up; work hard, fight for a “yes” for Rowayton, and, above all, keep smiling.
Thank you, Mike Barbis, for sharing your incomparable life with us.

With Heavy Hearts,
The RCA Board

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Sue Cooper September 24, 2021 at 6:59 pm

Mike Barbis was a colleague – there was no better person who devoted his time and energy to Norwalk. I will remember him for his bright and warm personality. Also miss his hugs at open houses when as a Realtor he was helping representing sellers.
This article was trash.

Katherine Snedake September 24, 2021 at 9:55 pm

Nancy, I suggest a public apology for this truly inappropriate and purely petty article. This article will define how many think of you and your work until an apology is issued and this article is edited. And I also plan to call your advertisers who support this site and make sure they are aware of your lack of common decency. Is this truly how you wish to be remembered as a journalist?

Nora King September 25, 2021 at 12:32 am

I want to thank everyone who has texted, called and shared their Mike stories with me. They meant so much to me.

Mike was a force of nature. Mike’s sense of adventure came from his highly educated and well-traveled mom and dad. His mom was a trail blazer. Both parents worked in Embassy positions that had his family living in Korea, Belgium, other areas of Europe and Greece for extended periods of time. Mike loved to drop everything and take off on new journeys. He would send all of us many pictures every day on what he was doing so we could experience the journey together. He could crash anywhere and make it fun. This was most likely from his boarding school background. Days that he enjoyed and developed this group of friends that he loved!

He was an intellect. You felt lucky to be on the end of the constant articles and tidbits he would share with you on a regular basis. He loved to educate us all on old cars, the economy, places to visit and anything that he thought was unusual and different. He loved being a dad and shared his love of travel, family, and community with Skyler. He became active in the BOE due to his son and wanting to improve education for his family as well as the future families who would attend Norwalk Schools.

He loved being a community leader. We have so many events and places in Rowayton because of his involvement. He was passionate and this often got him into trouble. But those who knew him well loved the strength of his conviction and his ability to bring about positive change. He gave so much of his personal time to make our community better, often at the expense of his livelihood. He loved his mother. She was often a fixture at his house and many of us loved listening to all of her travels and stories. Especially the ones she would share about Michael. He was a foodie, and he could cook. He loved to try new foods and loved to sit down with friends and family and enjoy food with great conversations.

He loved his friends and if you were in his circle, you would embrace his enthusiastic nature for adventure and community. He could swear like a sailor. It was part of his nature, and you would learn some words used in interesting combinations. He was funny. We laughed almost every day about something. He would champion all sorts of causes, whether finding food for a family, helping someone with a crisis or someone less fortunate that needed something. He always went the extra mile to help someone in need. He helped bring Japanese and Chinese into our schools. Often taking the teachers into his house when they came from abroad so our kids could experience this. He would lead trips or organize trips so those kids could experience those cultures. He was hands on with everything he did, and he would get it done! He did so much for Norwalk!

He was so much to so many people especially as a community leader, fireman, realtor, BOE leader, world traveler, activist, a father, a son, a brother. But to me he was one of my best friends. I love him! He was my partner in crime and a person that I barely ever went a day without talking to. Often many times a day we were talking or texting or at each other houses. Sometimes we would talk about nothing, but we just always wanted to know what each other was doing. He looked out for me and my children. My kids loved him, and he was a presence in their life. Mike and I often talked about when we got old how we would be living in some sort of senior complex riling things up. He probably would have been running the board. We talked about moving to Stonington and Rhode Island all the time once were settling down with our lives. Mostly because we both loved that area so much. We could finish each other sentences and we were always trying to keep one another from being overly vocal. We could argue like an old married couple but then laugh for hours together. We ran races, played tennis, skied, traveled, and hung out (often times with Canadian Club and wine) together. I would be constantly nagging at him to put his cell phone down. I could be sound of sleep at night, and he would be at my door after a meeting and come over to tell me about what had just happened because he couldn’t wait for the morning to share the news or a laugh. We still had so much to do, so much of the world to conquer together and so many more adventures to have together.

My heart hurts and it will always feel like a piece is missing. You don’t find friends like Mike very often. I was lucky that he chose to be that person for me. Besties for life! I will miss him every day but feel truly blessed to have known him and loved him. I take comfort because I know he is in heaven with my mom, my dogs Jax and Summer. He is wearing his Nantucket salmon colored shorts, his button down shirt with a fleece vest and flip flops and he is probably driving around in my old blue Jeep. XOXO

Thank You, Nora September 25, 2021 at 8:11 am

Nora,

I knew Mike only casually, but I knew you and Mike to be friends because he mentioned it to me at least once or twice. However, your letter gave me details of the friendship that most people had no way to know. You have done him honor by expressing his character and his personality, and you have done it with both warmth and humor. I know there are many people mourning this loss to the community.

As you mourn, but I hope you can keep foremost in your mind how fortunate you are to have become friends with him during your respective lifetimes, and to continue having him in your heart. Thank you for sharing your story.

Sara Littlefield September 27, 2021 at 8:41 am

Mike Barbis was a collegue for 20 years. Mike committed his ftime, days, months and years unselfishly to the town of Norwalk. Mike’s spirit will carry on in the town of Rowayton, his home town, and his loving son, Skylar. Mike was a proud and loving father. May you rest in peace Mike … Gone too soon!

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