Michael Barrasso deserved credit for a lot of things, but he never wanted any. The deed was good enough for Barrasso, a business and family man who always had time for people in need, even though he rarely had time for himself.
“He was one of those guys that if you needed help of any sort, he would always be helpful, but would always do it in a way that preserved your dignity,” friend Erin Rudner of Babylon said. “He wasn’t one of those guys who would help you and it would be all about him. … He would do it in such a kind, gentle, appropriate, and subtle way that you’d say, ‘Holy cow, that was generous.’ ”
Barrasso of Bayport, who was the president and co-owner of Barrasso and Sons Inc., a masonry supplies company in Islip Terrace, died Oct. 16 at Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue after a short battle with cancer, his wife of 30 years, Ruth, said. He was 56.
“He was just a good soul, just a beautiful soul,” Ruth said. “It made him happy to help other people. He never wanted any credit for it.”
Barrasso’s generosity extended into every facet of his life, friends said. As the face of his family’s longtime business, he cared about his employees and tried to treat everyone with a kindness that left an indelible mark on almost everyone he met. Barrasso was a staple around the office, working long hours with his English bulldog, Sophie, in tow.
“He cared so deeply for every single one of his employees and their families,” Ruth said. “He did everything he could to ensure that everybody kept working, everybody had insurance, and things like that. He felt responsible for every single people who worked there and their families.”
That generosity also extended to animals. In 2017, he helped rescue a horse that fell in a cesspool by digging out a ramp.
Born Nov. 22, 1962, in Bay Shore, Barrasso grew up in Islip Terrace. He graduated from East Islip High School in 1980 and joined the family business, one that was started by his grandfather, Anthony, in 1926, and never looked back.
“He was not ever going to be the one to stop the line,” Ruth said. “He felt that he could do so much good there. Not only was it a good business, it made a good living, and it gave his family a good life, but he was able to be good to his employees.”
“Our customers absolutely adored him,” said brother-in-law and business partner Joseph Longo, 62, of Great River. “Everyone feels that way and every employee at the company is devastated, and so are our customers. He was very well liked by everybody.”
Barrasso was an avid outdoorsman, said longtime friend Chris Sisinni, 59, of East Meadow. He loved to fish and bow hunt, appreciating the solitude of the outdoors. He respected nature and traveled far and wide to experience it. He once spent two weeks floating down a river in Alaska, living off the land and what he had on his back. He also went on an African safari.
“He was a real environmentalist,” said Sisinni. “Whenever we went anywhere, he would pick up papers and stuff off the ground and clean up. He loved the environment.”
Barrasso competed in six Iron Man races, heavy duty endurance events in which participants swim for 2.4 miles, bike from 112 miles, and then run a full 26.2-mile marathon.
“He loved a challenge,” Ruth said. “He was one of those kind of guys that you didn’t want to play against in anything because he’d try to win at all costs. He’d get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, train for three hours, then go to work from seven in the morning to six at night, then come home and do a 20-mile [bike] ride. He’d train for the swim in the Great South Bay.”
Barrasso did Iron Man competitions in New Zealand, Brazil, Arizona, Wisconsin, Lake Placid, and Florida. He also supported many local charities, including Autism Communities in Deer Park.
Although Barrasso’s life was filled with action, he also loved being around his family and relaxing at home. One of his favorite activities was reading on a coach on his screened-in porch.
Barrasso is survived by his wife; his triplet children, David, Juliana, and Madeline; mother, Isabel of Islip Terrace; father, Anthony Jr. of Bayport; sisters, Donna Longo of Great River and Marissa Geoghan of Bayport; and six nieces and nephews.