Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 5:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 8:16 a.m.
Remembered as a man with an unquenchable zest for life, Michael Sarmento enjoyed boating on Lake Sonoma with his friends and dreamed of starting his own business.
Sarmento died April 27 in an early morning car crash on Bennett Valley Road. He was 26.
Sarmento was born on April 20, 1987, in Greenbrae to Michael Sarmento and Lisa Mengarelli. His father was a sheet metal machinist, and his mother worked in the mortgage industry.
Sarmento grew up attending Cinnebar Elementary School in Petaluma and Thomas Page Elementary School in Rohnert Park. He developed a love of baseball at an early age.
“He was an avid baseball player,” said Mengarelli. “He played in the Rohnert Park Little League starting in T-Ball all the way up until high school.”
Sarmento attended Lawrence E. Jones Middle School and Rancho Cotate High School, where he graduated in 2005. Following graduation, he went to work as a meat cutter for Bud's Custom Meats in Penngrove.
Sarmento also worked other meat cutting jobs, including one with Marin Sun Farms, where he met his wife Juliana in 2010. The two married in 2011, moving first to Petaluma and then to Rohnert Park.
“He was always smiling,” said his wife. “He was such a goofball and he had such a positive attitude.”
Sarmento's love of the outdoors led him to pursue many interests, including hunting, fishing, camping and enjoying the boat his parents gave him as a gift. He also loved wakeboarding, and planned on starting his own wakeboarding and snowboarding apparel company.
“He was very determined to do what his passion was and start his own business,” said Mengarelli. “He filed a business name to call it High Ride Apparel.”
Mengarelli said she hopes to carry on Sarmento's dream.
“He lived a life of honesty and integrity,” said Mengarelli. “He was so giving, loving and compassionate, and he was a good son and a good friend.”
David Kennedy, who said he and Sarmento had been best friends since the third grade, remembered his friend as someone who always had his back and made him laugh.
“He was one of the funniest people I've ever met,” said Kennedy. “He was always cracking jokes and there was never a dull moment with him.”
Sarmento's wife recalled he tried to get her to go skydiving with him, but she refused. “He was always pushing his luck,” she said. “He loved anything with adrenaline.”
Sarmento was working as a heating and air conditioning installer, and had just started getting back into abalone diving before his death. He also enjoyed going to concerts with friends and spending time with his dog, Karma. “Karma was his best friend,” said his wife. “That dog was his baby.”
Kennedy said he and Sarmento enjoyed attending concerts together, often traveling to different music festivals. “He was always down to do something,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said Sarmento often spoke of his family and how much he enjoyed hunting with his dad and how he “would do anything” for his mom.
“He's going to be missed by everyone,” said his wife. “Everyone loved his energy.”
Sarmento is survived by his wife Juliana Sarmento of Santa Rosa, his father Michael Sarmento of Cotati, his mother Lisa Mengarelli of Novato, his sister Paige Sarmento of Cotati and his grandmother Gloria Petrucci of Rohnert Park.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Pleasant Hills Memorial Park, 1700 Pleasant Hill Road in Sebastopol. In lieu of flowers, the family has set up the Michael James Sarmento Memorial Fund to benefit Juliana Sarmento's nursing education.
— Melody Karpinski
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