Frank’s wife Audrey was the grounding force in his efforts to help prostitutes transition to life off the streets. Before funds became available for a transitional housing program, Frank often brought former prostitutes home to live with the couple temporarily until housing could be found. Through the hardships and high points of their unconventional life together, Frank and Audrey stayed committed to each other, to their daughter Cheryl, and to the work of helping at-risk children find a better life. When Audrey died in 2008, he lost some of his zest for life, but carried on with his work until illness made him too frail to continue. Frank would want to express his deepest gratitude to his daughter Cheryl, of whom he Frank Barnaba, 80, of Chester, died Saturday, October 24, 2015 after a long illness. He was born and raised in the Allingtown section of West Haven to the late Leonard and Lucy (Petti) Barnaba. Frank was predeceased by his beloved wife Audrey, and by his brother Leonard Barnaba, Jr. He is survived by his loving daughter, Cheryl Barnaba, of North Branford; a sister-in-law, Joan Barnaba, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; a brother-in-law, Robert Potts of Costa Mesa, California; a nephew Gary Potts and wife Liz and their children Amanda, Christina, and Eric Potts of North Haven; a nephew Robert Potts, Jr. and wife Kathy Devlin Potts of Dunedin, Florida; a cousin, Rocco Battista and wife Audrey of Winsted; and a godson, Kerrian Hall.  


Frank was a gifted businessman, holding the position of senior vice president at Culligan Water Treatment Co. for 30 years. However, it was his work on behalf of sexually abused and exploited children – borne of his own experiences as an abused child – that became his life’ calling.

He began his advocacy work in 1980, at a time when many parents, particularly those living in the Connecticut suburbs, simply couldn’t comprehend the dangers of the sex trade. His work would foretell the ease with which children could be lured by predators or victimized through pornography in the Internet era. He founded two nonprofit agencies, The Paul & Lisa Program, Inc. and The Barnaba Institute, through which he and his staff educated the public, conducted outreach on the streets of New York, and provided services for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.


Although Frank had a limited formal education, he went on to make a difference in the world, helping countless children and young adults escape the chain of victimization and abuse. He was a national expert in his field, and was invited to lecture at national conferences on sexual exploitation and human trafficking including the White House and the Helsinki Commission, as well as at numerous colleges and universities. In 1988 he was awarded the National Victims of Crime Award by President Ronald Reagan.


Despite the seriousness of his work, Frank was fun loving and full of life, with a boisterous laugh that would invariably end with a coughing spell and tearing up of the eyes. He had a gift for telling stories: of the Italian relatives in Brooklyn and New Haven, of Yankee games in the golden era of baseball, and of his beloved “girls on the street,” to whom he devoted his life. In the retelling, his stories tended to embellish the facts and weave in fiction for dramatic effect. He loved nothing more than social gatherings around food, except perhaps being on the phone. His favorite haunt was Luigi’s Restaurant in Old Saybrook.

was extremely proud, and to Gary and Liz Potts, for their love and devotion particularly during his extended illness. He was also grateful to his neighbor Debbie King for looking after him and to Kimberly Bon Vecchione for her leadership of The Barnaba Institute.


A celebration of his life will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1382 Middletown Ave., Northford. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Northford or The Barnaba Institute.