The sudden death of a popular leader and member of the Board of Education has stunned one Fairfield County community.
Norwalk Public Schools announced on Wednesday, Sept. 22, that longtime school board member Mike Barbis died unexpectedly.
"The Norwalk Board of Education and Norwalk Public Schools are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Mike Barbis," the district said.
A member of the Board of Education since 2011, the district said Barbis, 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 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 for a memorial service to remember Mike," the District said.
The Rowaytonites said: "There has been an outpouring of requests to help celebrate the life of Mike Barbis. Mike's family is in the process of deciding what to do at this very difficult time."
Many more paid tribute to Barbis on social media, including the city which said: “Mike dedicated a lot of his life to the City of Norwalk, 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 during his time on the Board.”
Norwalk Republicans called Barbis’ death “a shocking day for Norwalk."
"Mike has served on the BOE since 2011 and was a passionate advocate for Norwalk Public Schools and worked closely with many to dedicate himself to our community schools. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family and friends during this difficult time," they added.
Democrats praised Barbis as well: "He was outspoken, driven, and never wavered from standing up for what he believed in," they said on Facebook. "Mike has left an indelible mark in our community and will be sorely missed."
Funeral arrangements and a memorial service for Barbis are being arranged, according to the school district.
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