But in December, at 96, Sargol’s strength was waning. He came down with a severe case of covid-19 and couldn’t beat it.
Like thousands of families nationwide, Sargol’s three children and his wife of 70 years said goodbye to him on a Zoom video call as he listened from his hospital bed, said his daughter, Stephanie Gimmi.
Sargol died a few days later, on Dec. 30.
“The hospital let me and my mom into his room after he passed,” Gimmi said, “and let us sit with him for about an hour.” Together, they mourned and remembered his life.
Stanley Steven Sargol Sr. was born Aug. 24, 1924, in Shickshinny, Pa. The son of Polish immigrants, he grew up poor during the Great Depression, experiences that shaped his lifelong frugality, Gimmi said. Toward the end of World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, as it was called then, serving for a short time before deciding to go to college.
“I think only because they were poor, it was really important to him to get an education, so he was very persistent, especially with us kids, about going to school, going to college,” Gimmi said.
He graduated in the top of his class with a business degree from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He met his wife, Joanne, at a Friday night dance in a small town a few miles away, and they married in 1950 before setting off to Arlington to build a life together.
His first job was as an auditor for the GAO. Sargol never left, not until his retirement in 1985. He audited the new Amtrak system in the 1970s, explaining “How to Run (or Not Run) A Railroad” in a government report, and testified before a roomful of senators about the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children in the 1980s.
Joe Totten, another former colleague and softball teammate, said Sargol was a mentor to him and many of the younger auditors — and was also known for his “legendary” love of GAO softball, as one colleague put it, and a “trademark” flat-top haircut that he never changed.
Totten even wrote a poem about the military-style hairdo, which he read at a bar after Sargol’s last GAO softball game: “Stanley, on this year on this special night, when you count up the times you’ve been cheated, one thing that stands out and still looks all right is your crew cut that goes undefeated.”
Sargol kept playing for years after leaving the GAO, traveling with Joanne and other senior citizen players from Arlington to tournaments as far as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In retirement, he became an “avid gardener,” Gimmi said. He also brought his accounting acumen to the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, where Gimmi said he volunteered to help count the Sunday collection every Monday for 30 years.
He was deeply involved in the church, Gimmi said, and was an early donor during a major renovation and expansion in the 1950s.
Years later, Gimmi said, her parents — both devout Catholics — sent her and her brothers, Stanley Jr. and Steven, to Catholic school at St. Thomas More. And years after that, Gimmi sent her own children there, too.
More than anything, Gimmi said, Sargol wanted to be close to family. Both Gimmi and her brother Stanley Jr. live across the street from their parents — next door to each other — while Steven lives just a mile away.
They had family happy hour every Friday night and cooked Maryland crabs on special occasions — namely on their father’s birthday.
After he died, his family held a private Mass for him at the church he belonged to for seven decades.