Karla Jean Bagtaz, 41; caring, rascally, adventurous
Karla Jean Bagtaz appreciated things that were big and noisy. Things like rock concerts. And monster trucks -- those pickups with ridiculously oversized wheels, splashy paint schemes and nicknames like "BigFoot."
"Anything that was large and loud," said Ms. Bagtaz's close friend Natalia Vargas, of Stoughton, Mass. "She liked people and things that were larger than life."
People remember Ms. Bagtaz, 41, of Brockton, as a caring, warm woman who liked spending time with the children of her friends and family.
She had a talent for lifting someone up on a bad day.
"When she sees someone is at their lowest low, she is right there, picking them up," said Vargas, who met Ms. Bagtaz in first grade.
Ms. Bagtaz had a distinctive laugh and a rascally nature.
Last summer, she gave Vargas's son $100 on his birthday. But she made him work for it.
Each of the dollar bills was folded up inside a tiny capsule, the same sort of plastic container used in vending machines for children's toys.
"She was always up to something," Vargas said.
Ms. Bagtaz lived most of her life in Stoughton. She graduated from Stoughton High School in 1980. In recent years, she worked as a legal assistant for a lawyer in Randolph, Michael Maniscalco. In recent weeks, she had started a new job for Miracle Mortgage in Dedham.
Meanwhile, she sold Avon fragrances and other products, and she spent several nights a week waiting tables at Lastoria Italian Bar and Grill in Stoughton.
"Everybody liked her," said the restaurant's assistant manager, Mickey Lastoria.
When she was off the clock, Ms. Bagtaz liked to escape.
"She had an adventurous side to her, without a doubt," Vargas recalled.
Ms. Bagtaz often had concert tickets to hand out.
Late one Sunday night in January, Vargas found herself at The Living Room in Providence. And she didn't like the music much. It was her friend's thought that counted.
"I did it for her -- she loved it," Vargas said.
"I know if there is a heaven, she made it there with a bunch of people who have the same interests as her."
-- Mark Reynolds, Providence Journal staff
Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003