Barbara Basser Bigio, a former investment banker and New York City public servant who grew up in Port Washington, died on Dec. 20, at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan at the age of 59, following a heroic 21-month long battle against brain cancer.
Until then, she led a full life characterized by a deep love of family and friends, a strong desire to help others, and consummate professionalism in her career.
Ms. Basser Bigio attended Flower Hill Elementary School, Carrie Palmer Weber Junior High School, and Paul D. Schreiber High Public School. After her mother, Suzanne Basser, co-founded Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, Barbara helped her bring the message of environmentalism into Port Washington’s public schools through programs she helped organize.
At Schreiber High, Barbara was Chair of the Student Council for two years, and President of the Spanish Club. She won the Spanish Award, and both the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and John F. Kennedy Awards for public service in her senior year. After graduating in 1972, she went on to earn a B.A. from Smith College in 1976, and an M.B.A. from Columbia University Business School in 1983.
Ms. Basser Bigio rose to the level of Managing Director in the Municipal Finance Department of the Fixed Income Division of Goldman Sachs & Co. before retiring in 2001. After 9-11, she was recruited by the Bloomberg Administration to use her skills in public finance as the Executive Director of the NYC Industrial Development Agency (NYCIDA) and Executive Vice President of the New York NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), where she spearheaded many important initiatives to revitalize lower Manhattan (and other boroughs), including the issuance of Liberty Bonds.
Throughout her life, Ms. Basser Bigio was involved in a myriad of public service activities, including political campaigns to elect Allard K. Lowenstein to Congress and Ted Kennedy for President, and fundraising efforts for various Jewish organizations, including the Harvard Hillel in Cambridge, MA, and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).
From 2008 to 2012, Barbara was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Riverdale Country School, where she served as Chair of the Finance and Investment Committees, Treasurer, and Member of the Executive Committee. She also served on the Board at of the Educational Alliance for several years.
Beyond her professional life, Ms. Basser Bigio also, a first-generation American and child of Viennese refugees of the Holocaust, focused much of her rich energy on fostering close relationships with family and friends.
She successfully blended Viennese, Austrian-Jewish and Spanish-Hispanic and Jewish cultures, along with her ability to pursue life-long passions for travel and design and food, resulted in many colorful memories. Following her second retirement from the NYCIDA and NYCEDC, Ms. Basser Bigio helped her husband, Jack create a fine jewelry studio in New York City.
Ms. Basser Bigio is survived by her husband, Jack, and three children, Zakieh, Rachel, and William of New York City; her brother Peter Basser, Ph.D. and family of Washington, DC; and her father, Harold Basser of Lexington, MA, and Tucson, AZ. Her mother, Suzanne Basser, died in 2004. The family asks that donations be made in Barbara’s name to Cycle for Survival, http://tinyurl.com/ogzmunf, an organization that raises money for the Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center to support research in rare brain diseases, such as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).