WEST ORANGE, NJ — Michael Fabiano, Sr., 74, of West Orange, died on Monday, July 11 at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.
Born and raised in Newark and a longtime resident of West Orange, Fabiano was the Chairman of the West Orange Democratic Committee, a member of the West Orange Planning Board, the past president of the Sons of Italy, a member of UNICO, former Deputy Mayor for the Township of West Orange, and was inducted into the Essex County Democratic Hall of Fame in 2002.
Fabiano was also the aide to Assemblymen Leroy Jones, the owner and operator of F. Fabiano and Son Contractors in West Orange and served his country in the U.S. Navy and as a member of the Tin Can Sailors.
West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said that Fabiano was well-versed in the community and also knew what it took to run for office. Friends and family, as well as Parisi, say Fabiano was respected by anyone who knew him and anyone who has been involved in local politics.
"As someone doing this a long time, local politics won't be the same without Mike,” said Parisi. “We certainly offer our prayers to Patty and her family and the Fabiano family."
When he first started in politics, Parisi said people suggested he reach out to Fabiano, who quickly became someone Parisi sought advice from on a number of local issues.
Apart from being the face of the West Orange Democratic Party, Fabiano also liked being "a bit behind the scenes" and not always out front, according to Parisi. For example, Parisi said, if a friend was having financial issues, Fabiano took it upon himself to reach out people and secretly raise money for this friend.
Sal Anderton, the current Chairman of the Democratic Committee and a former West Orange councilman, echoed Parisi by saying that Fabiano was the friend that local politicians and beyond went to for advice. Anderton said that before computers, Fabiano managed to develop and maintain strong relationships throughout the community simply by creating and memorizing index cards with the names, addresses, phone numbers and family members of every voter in town.
“He was basically a database before there were databases and that’s how well he knew the community—that’s how well he knew West Orange,” said Anderton. “Mike taught us a lot about how to relate to West Orange and how to relate to the people in town, and I know I for one, and a lot of other folks are better off because we knew him.”
West Orange Board of Education President Laura Lab said that West Orange lost a true icon on Monday. She said the most surprising of Fabiano’s qualities was that he was a true feminist who firmly believed that women “not only should but must have a seat at the table as government progressed.”
"Mike Fabiano touched and mentored so many of us,” said Lab. “He was a proud veteran who fondly recalled his time in the service. I will miss my friend but take comfort in that fact he is no longer in so much pain and is in a better place. Rest in peace, my friend."
Fabiano is survived by his wife, Patricia (Lombardi) Spango Fabiano of West Orange; his step children James Spango and his wife Dawn of Livingston, Ralph Spango of West Orange, and Tricia Spango of West Orange; his children, Michelle Fabiano of Forked River, NJ, Wayne Fabiano of Henderson, NV and Michael Fabiano of Madison, NJ; his siblings Ronald Fabiano and his wife Patricia of Bayville, NJ and Eileen Abate and her husband Frank of Marlboro, NJ; his step grandchildren Brooklyn and Madison; his grandchildren Katie, Caroline, Michael and Noah and many loving nieces and nephews—especially Ronald Fabiano.
Family will receive friends on Wednesday, July 13, from 4-8 p.m. at the Dangler Funeral Home, located at 340 Main St. in West Orange.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Thursday, July 14 at 10 a.m. at St. Raphael’s Church in Livingston. Entombment will follow to Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover.
Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals, located at 145 St. Catherine Blvd. in Toms River, is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the COPD Foundation at www.copdfoundation.org. Condolences may be sent by visiting www.ryanfuneralhome.com.