On an ideal Thanksgiving Day, Don Vargo would spend the morning running the 26.2-mile Atlanta marathon, then kick back with family, food and football for a well-deserved rest.
Mr. Vargo was the kind of natural athlete and disciplined health nut who made everyone around him shake their heads in wonder.
He cycled, ran, played tennis and golf, and competed in triathlons.
He fueled his super-fit body with chicken, fish and vegetables.
He got up at 5:30 in the morning and led spinning classes at the YMCA in Norcross that left participants huffing and puffing their way to sweat-soaked exhaustion.
"He was probably 5-10 and weighed 150 or 160 pounds, the way we would all want to be and are not --- at least, I'm not," said his friend John Squier of Marietta.
"Here we have the best athlete I've ever known who takes great care of himself, and always eats right and does all the right things, and then something like this happens."
Donald Thomas Vargo, 51, died of spindle cell carcinoma Nov. 11 at the Hospice of the Cleveland Clinic. The body was cremated. The memorial Mass is 11 a.m. Monday at All Saints Catholic Church. Cremation Society of Ohio is in charge of arrangements.
The longtime Peachtree Corners resident relocated to Hudson, Ohio, in June, about the time he was diagnosed with cancer.
Mr. Vargo's first and only employer was Georgia Valve and Fitting. He joined the company 29 years ago after earning a business degree from Georgia State University.
Talkative and outgoing, he climbed from salesman to sales manager and had just snagged a promotion to work at the company's home office in Ohio as a business development manager.
"It was his dream job, the one he always wanted," said his father, Lou Vargo of Marietta.
The Cleveland native transferred to Georgia State from Jacksonville University, where he had a golf scholarship.
When he peddled like mad in front of his spin classes, his father said, it was because "he wanted to set an example for his children and also for the people in his class.
"He just wanted to make people aware of how to live the best they could and be healthy and eat properly."
For years, Mr. Spier said, he and Mr. Vargo ran together, played tennis together and golfed together --- but never on a level playing field.
"I mean, I wasn't even in his league," Mr. Spier said, "because he was a great athlete.
"He was a scratch golfer and a far better runner than I could ever be," he said. "But that's how nice of a guy he was, that he would let somebody like me run with him. Don got people like me to do more than I ever would have."
"I'll be running the half-marathon on Thanksgiving," Mr. Spier said. "And probably a lot of it is just because Don got me interested in running."
Survivors other than his father include his wife of 25 years, Karen Vargo of Hudson; two daughters, Charlotte Vargo of Atlanta, and Caroline Vargo of Hudson; a son, Matthew Vargo of Athens; his mother, Millie Vargo of Marietta; a brother, Dave Vargo of Cincinnati; and a sister, Becki Breslin of Oneonta, N.Y.