Longtime public servant Ralph Stassi dies at 82

Staff Report

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi remembers the approach his father, Ralph Stassi, took to public service.

Ralph Stassi died Aug. 19 at age 82.

“He never met a stranger,” he said. “He always tried to help them, and it was those who were in the worst shape or were broke he tried to help even more.”

Funeral services were held Saturday for Ralph Stassi, a longtime member of the Plaquemine Board of Selectman, whose career in public services spanned more than 60 years and included work on the local, parish and state level.

He passed away Wednesday, Aug. 19, at The Hospice of Baton Rouge Butterfly Wing, surrounded by his family. Stassi died 12 days before his 82nd birthday.

Stassi had been hospitalized for a brain injury after a fall in early July. The accident occurred just days before his son, Sheriff Brett Stassi, had been admitted to the same hospital for coronavirus.

Ralph Stassi began his career as a roughneck on an oil rig and later started his own logging business. He was later elected to the Iberville Parish Police Jury and then became a detective for the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, where he started under then-Sheriff Jessel M. Ourso.

Sheriff Stassi remembers his father’s “unique approach” to law enforcement.

“I never saw anyone chase someone so hard, and when they were caught, he’d try to help them,” he said.

He also remembers his father’s commitment to law enforcement.

“When we would have a big case, we would work 18 or 24 hours straight and we’d tell him we’d go home to get four or five hours of sleep,” Sheriff Stassi said. “He’d tell us he’d stick around and let us know what happens.

“My light is not as bright today since my daddy is gone,” he said. “He was a good dad, and a good civil servant.”

Stassi was promoted to Chief of Detectives and retired as a Chief Criminal Deputy with 19 years of service. He also served on the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole.

He was elected to the Plaquemine Board of Selectmen in 2001, and served under Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta, Mary Sue Gulotta (who filled the unexpired term of her husband after his death in 2015) and current Mayor Edwin Reeves.

Reeves served alongside Stassi on the Board of Selectmen during Stassi’s first term.

“Ralph was my best friend on the Board of Selectmen, and always told me he’d have my back,” Reeves said. “He truly cared about the people.”

Reeves and City Manager Richard Alleman – also a former member of the board – visited Stassi weekly when he became ill.

“He always asked us to take care of the people he represented … that’s all he worried about,” Reeves said. “I’ll miss him greatly.”

Scott Stassi, the sheriff’s brother, has served as an assistant district attorney under Ricky Ward.

The years Ralph Stassi spent in public service served as a motivation for his sons to follow in his footsteps.

“He knocked down a lot of trees for Scott and I that we didn’t have to cut down,” Sheriff Stassi said. “He knocked them down for us and gave us an opportunity to be who we are today … he really paved the way for us.”

Stassi is survived by his wife of 32 years, Chris Patin Stassi; children, Brett Stassi, Sr. (Caroline), Suzanne Stassi Fraser (Scott), Scott Stassi (Sandi), Nico Migliacio (Mandi), Haley Migliacio Cain (Jason), Monty Migliacio (Casey), Mario Migliacio (Lea), and Julien Stassi (Kaitlyn); grandchildren, Brett Michael Jr., Anne Marie, Annette, Sarah, John, Claire, Nicholas, Madelyne, Kennedy and Reid; great grandchildren, Christopher, Evelyn, Sophia, Ajax, Gwendolyn and Egan; sister, Loretta Stassi Keller; brother, Glynn Stassi (Jackie).

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Elsie Joffrion Stassi; infant son, Stephen Wayne Stassi.

Pallbearers were his six sons, Brett, Scott, Nico, Monty, Mario and Julien. Honorary pallbearers were Mayor Ed Reeves, Jr., and City of Plaquemine Selectmen: Lindon “Lin” Rivet, Oscar Mellion, Michael “Mickey” Rivet, Russell Gerace, Jimmie Randle and Timmy Martinez; Plaquemine Fire Chief Darren Ramirez, Stanley H. “Jackie” Jackson, Andrew “Banana” LeBlanc, and Tommy Thompson.