Jim Carney

STOW: The scene played out as if it were written in Hollywood.


Sarah Razzaia was inside a restaurant near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. Jason Joseph Vargo, a soldier, was just home from his second tour in Iraq.


They wound up at the same table. They started talking.


That night, Vargo took her for a ride in his new VW GLI and while driving, it started to rain. The song For a Dancer by Jackson Browne came on his CD player. He asked her to dance — right there in the rain.


A year later, in 2007, they were married.


“Fate brought us together,” Sarah Vargo said Wednesday in her Stow apartment, surrounded by family, pictures of her husband, his medals and his uniform.


A week ago, Jason Vargo, only 29, died of a heart attack.


His death occurred just three months after his honorable discharge from the Army. He had served four tours in Iraq with the 55th Air Defense Artillery.


“He had the biggest heart of anyone I ever knew,” his wife said.


Vargo, who reached the rank of sergeant, was born in Akron. He joined the Army at age 19 out of Kodiak, Alaska, where his parents, Steven and Josephine Vargo, lived.


Sarah Vargo, 29, said her husband had two medical problems while in the Army: He had to be evacuated with a burst appendix during his third tour, and during his fourth tour, he was sent back to Washington state when he developed a blood-clotting problem that first showed up as a swollen calf while in Iraq.


Stateside in early 2010, he was told he had a rare blood-clotting disorder and was treated with blood thinners for a year. He left the Army about a year later with accrued leave and was formally discharged at the end of February.


The couple moved to Akron, where he began studying criminal justice at the University of Akron during the spring semester, his wife said. He was on a two-week break when he developed flu-like symptoms at home the night of May 22.


The next morning his symptoms continued, his wife said, and he asked to be taken to an emergency room.


At the Akron General Medical Center facility in Stow, he had two seizures and died. The Summit County Medical Examiner said his death was the result of a heart attack and determined he suffered from coronary artery disease.


“The world is not as great as it was over a week ago because he did so much for so many people and he was such a good person,” Sarah Vargo said. “Not everybody has that kind of love to give, and he did and he did it on a daily basis.”


Proud of work


Vargo, who is assistant director of All Around Children Montessori and Childcare in Stow, said her husband was proudest of the work he and other soldiers with him did with Iraqi children at the beginning of the war.


His father, Steven Vargo, a Coast Guard veteran originally from Akron, said his son was a “giving person, who loved his country and served it proudly.”


Cliff Razzaia, his father-in-law, said Vargo never looked at life as a half-full glass but insisted it was “three-quarters and filling!”


Along with his wife, parents and brother, Zach, Vargo is survived by 10-year-old son Anthony of Portland, Ore., and other relatives.


Sarah Vargo said For a Dancer will be played at calling hours from 3 to 8 tonight at Newcomer Funeral Home at 131 N. Canton Road in Akron.


“Keep a fire for the human race, let your prayers go drifting into space, you never know what will be coming?down. ... ”


She said that the night they danced in the rain, Jason told her, “We just need to take in the moment.”


“We were together from there on after,” she said.


Services Friday


Funeral services will be 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, St. Joseph’s Parish, 2643 Waterloo Road, Randolph Township in Portage County.


The family asks that memorials be made to the National Blood Clot Association at www.stoptheclot.org.


Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.