But as driven as she was at work, Napolitano, of Huntington, who died Sunday at 51 of liver cancer, was equally dedicated to her two children, her husband, Bill Napolitano, recalled Tuesday.
"She really had a strong work ethic, but she felt that being a mother was very important. She was able to balance her work responsibilities and her family responsibilities," her husband said.
So even as she rewrote the company's safety manual, much of which became an industry standard, she found time to attend her daughter Nicole's and son Christopher's soccer and lacrosse games.
She also was treasurer of the Huntington Booster Club, which raised money for sports programs at Huntington High School, which her children attended.
She found the time to help her children with their schoolwork, said her husband, who had been friends with Barbara since the seventh grade, before they began dating at Centereach High School.
"She was a fun person. She enjoyed going on trips, doing things around the house with them. She loved to garden, decorate around the house or whatever the kids were involved in," her husband said.
"She was a very strong woman, a loving, caring mother, and my companion since high school," he said. Barbara Palisi was born in New Rochelle. Her family moved to Levittown and then Selden, where she graduated from Centereach High School in 1978. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of arts degree in communications in 1982.
She worked as a financial planner at Merrill Lynch and E.F. Hutton & Co. in Manhattan from 1983 to 1988, and as a risk manager at the Melville-based Oxford Resources car leasing company from 1988 to 1999. Since then, she had worked for Suffolk Transportation.
"She always had a smile on her face," said the company's human resources director, Teresa O'Halloran, who also recalled Napolitano always had fresh flowers on her desk and pictures of her children and husband all over her office.
In addition to her husband, whom she married in 1986, and her children, she is survived by her parents, Joseph and Dorothy Palisi, of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; brothers Gerry Palisi of West Hartford, Conn., Tom Palisi of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Daniel Palisi of Mount Holly, N.C.; and sisters Joanne McEniry of Trumbull, Conn., Kate Rowan of Charlotte, N.C., and Liz Kyle of Easley, S.C.
Visiting will be at the M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
A Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Church of St. Patrick in Huntington.A memorial service is to be scheduled. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Relay for Life, relayrorlife.org.