"BIG" STEVE ADUBATO
1932 - 2020
On behalf of the entire staff of ASPIRA Inc., of New Jersey, we would like to offer our sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies on the recent passing of Steve Adubato, Sr. He was always a staunch advocate and supporter of our organization and mission, and he consistently offered his resources to help youth and families throughout the city of Newark.
Steve Adubato, Sr., or as everyone knew him, "Big Steve," was much more than the historical accomplishments, awards and political moxie that he's known for; He was a true embodiment of Newark in many respects, and his love for our city could never be questioned. He wore Newark as a badge of honor and represented it and its residents with distinction.
Big Steve was his own man - Brash, unmoved and unfettered. If you didn't know him, he was intimidating, brass tacks and aggressive with his beliefs. For those of us that did know him well, always knew that his eyes were on the bigger picture. He was constantly looking at how his contributions could benefit the community, the North Ward and the city as a whole. From supporting Newark's first Black mayor in the late Kenneth Gibson, to founding The North Ward Center and Robert Treat Academy, to evolving with the population of the North Ward, as it shifted from being predominantly Italian-American to Latinx, he continued to be a trailblazer throughout his tenure.
On a personal note, Big Steve was my friend, my mentor and on more than one occasion, my second Dad. As a young man growing up in Newark in the late 80's and 90's, the city was much different than what it is today. Back then, it was real easy to fall victim to outside influences and veer off your pathway to higher purpose and accomplishment. Big Steve saw that and made a commitment to ensure that young people had access to educational opportunities and resources. He truly believed that Newark's future resided in the investment in it's youth, dedicating a significant portion of his life towards that mission . He challenged me to find my true purpose, and wanted me to think bigger and never shrink at adversity. Big Steve instilled in me to move beyond the status quo and adopt his mantra to never accept mediocrity. For him, he wanted to share his successes and love for the city. For me, I wanted to model my own personal and professional characteristics after him - A stalwart of the community...An advocate for the underserved...A voice for the voiceless and an innovator.
However, out of all the roles that he held, it was his role as a father and husband that I cherished the most. Steve left us a legacy in his son Steve, Jr., his wife of 66 years, Fran, and his daughters, Michele, (currently serving as CEO of the North Ward Center) and Theresa (Principal and Chief School Administrator for Robert Treat Academy). As a father to a beautiful little girl, I think about the advice he gave me as I started my journey into parenthood.
I am not saying goodbye, because knowing Steve, he wouldn't want me to say that. But I will say "thank you" for your work, your humanity and example. The rising Newark of today is a testament to your dedication, and its continued momentum will be among your many legacies.
I will miss you tremendously. Rest in power and glory.
Carlos Valentin, Jr.
"I am not a nice guy...Nice guys are those who sit back and do nothing.”
- Steve Adubato, Sr.