Michael J. Sabbagh
Former Commissioner of Insurance, Michael J. Sabbagh has passed away. He was 92.
Born in Lawrence to Nadra and Rose Sabbagh, Mr. Sabbagh graduated from Lawrence High School in 1941. After graduation, he entered the Armed Forces becoming a sergeant in the Army Air Force during World War II. His service brought him the Distinguished Unit Badge and the European African Middle Eastern Theatre Campaign Ribbon with six Battle Stars.
After World War II, Mr. Sabbagh returned to Massachusetts, eventually settling in Methuen. He attended Suffolk University, receiving a BS in Business Administration. He later obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Northeastern University.
He and his wife of 68 years, Rose (Ellis) Sabbagh had four children all of whom survive him: Michael Jr. and his wife Joanne, Paul and wife Shannon, and daughters Donna Brucato and husband Frank, and Nancy Boshar and husband Paul. In addition, Commissioner Sabbagh had six grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers Thomas and Nadra, and his sister Irene Beshara.
In addition to his long and varied career in insurance, Mr. Sabbagh also contributed to his community. Over the years, he served on the boards of many charitable organizations and was the founder and long-term President of the Board of Directors of Cedars Home for the Elderly in Methuen. He was also a Selectman for the Town of Methuen. An avid sports fan throughout his life, he coached Little League baseball in both Lawrence and Methuen.
A highly respected career in the Massachusetts insurance industry
Mr. Sabbagh had a long and varied career in the Massachusetts insurance industry. He worked for the Massachusetts Division of Insurance for an impressive 36 years, rising through the ranks to eventually become the Commissioner of Insurance.
Prior to that, he was an assistant to the Insurance Commissioner, where he acted as a liaison to insurance companies, agents and brokers, trade associations, bureaus and residual market organizations. Mr. Sabbagh served as both a First Deputy Insurance Commissioner and then Commissioner, positions he served from 1979 until 1985.
After leaving the Division of Insurance, Mr. Sabbagh continued to act as an insurance consultant and board member of several insurance companies, including the Board of Directors of Arbella Mutual Insurance Company. He served as a Director at the time of Arbella’s formation in 1988, a position he held for ten years more.
Highly respected throughout the industry, Mr. Sabbagh received both the Man of the Year Award and the Insurance Professional of the Year Award from the Insurance Library Association of Boston.
In announcing Mr. Sabbagh’s selection as the 2010 winner of the Insurance Professional of the Year award, the Insurance Library Association of Boston said,
He was chosen because of outstanding contribution to the many communities in which he is active. His long service with the Massachusetts Division of Insurance in several key roles and as Insurance Commissioner benefited the insurance industry and consumers alike. His membership on numerous boards and board committees is a testament to the respect of his peers.
While retired for many years, it could be argued that Mr. Sabbagh never really left the Massachusetts insurance industry. In addition to attending the annual Insurance Professional of the Year Award Luncheons he also made an appearance at this year’s MAIA “Big Event.” Below is a 2014 picture of Mr. Sabbagh (third from left) with the other Insurance Professional of the Year Award winners.