Peter John Virag
(October 29, 1959 - April 13, 2022)

INDEPENDENCE, MO – Peter John Virag, 62, residing in Independence, MO, passed away on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Peter began life on Thursday, October 29, 1959 in sunny Honolulu, HI, to John and Margaret (Palancsa) Virag. The family moved to New Jersey, where they spent several years before settling down in Waynesboro, VA.

Peter was the eldest son of four: his younger brother Thomas, who sadly died in childhood; and his twin brothers Edward and Dean. They remained in Waynesboro, VA, where he graduated from Waynesboro High School in 1977. There, his musical prowess shined as an all-state member of the school’s choir.

A love of flying and desire for new experiences led him to join the United States Air Force after school, where he served admirably. After returning from the Air Force, he set down roots in Richmond, VA. He started a full-time job with Marriott while taking classes at Virginia Commonwealth University.

It was at Marriott that he met his future wife, Cheryl, during a conference. After dating for two years, they were married in Richmond, VA in 1987, settling down in the area as he became a dad to her three young sons Aaron, Nathan, and Bryan. Over the next four years they were joined by two more sons: Michael in 1989, and Daniel in 1992.

Peter was an active and engaged father, becoming deeply involved in coaching various sports including basketball, football, and baseball. He was a boy scout troop leader, active participant in the PTA and school functions, and the last line of defense for getting past the hard parts in video games. Juggling the differing interests and needs of five children with ages ranging from toddlers to teenagers is not easy, but he managed to strike a balance well and make sure all felt loved and considered.

Despite the full house, Peter and Cheryl supported each other in career-advancing pursuits. He wanted to start a business, and that idea came to fruition as Creative Advertising Concepts, a promotional marketing firm serving local small businesses. After converting the living room into an office/product showroom, he channeled his creative talents to helping promote his customers in unique ways. The business was successful, but he closed up shop when the family decided to pull up roots and relocate to Blue Springs, MO in 1998.

Moving to Missouri was an opportunity for a new start, and Peter took advantage by completing his education and earning a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from DeVry University. To add more difficulty to the task, he took a full course load while working a very physically demanding job at United Parcel Service (UPS). Despite the odds, his hard work paid off and he graduated with high honors. His degree opened the doors to a new career in technology, where he had various titles at Sprint, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and Ericsson.

After 17 years, Peter and Cheryl parted ways in 2004. Despite strong ties to the east coast, he remained in the area to continue his career and serve as a dutiful father, eventually buying a home in Independence. The house was not his ideal location, but served as a way to provide his children with an in-state place of residence and to be close by while they went through college.

Later in life, Peter met his life partner Natalie. The connection was immediate and continued to develop despite circumstances that kept them traveling and physically separated for long stretches of time. While on the road and sometimes half a country apart, they continued to bond over phone calls and made the most of the times they were together. When the traveling finally slowed, they spent as much time together as possible.

Beyond his family, Peter had many passions. Music was the metronome to his life starting from a young age, and that passion only grew deeper over time. Though he was part of school choirs growing up, his adult life was largely dominated by a love of guitar and Rock & Roll. He appreciated both the visceral feelings of listening to live music, and the artistry and technique that went into production. Some of his favorites included Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Joe Bonamassa (to name just a select few). Music served a constant source of delight and inspiration in his life.

Coming in just behind music was his great love of sports. Whether it was Notre Dame on Saturday, the Dolphins on Sunday, the Yankees, the Lakers, UVA, or golf tournaments like the Masters, Peter loved to watch them all. After moving to the Kansas City area, he regularly attended sporting events. He was a Chiefs season ticket holder for several years, and had an annual tradition of seeing the Yankees at Kauffman with friends and family while enjoying a ballpark sheboygan. His knowledge and experience from watching sports translated well during his time coaching and, later, as a referee.

Not content just to watch sports, Peter also deeply enjoyed playing them. In particular, he loved golf. Even though various life circumstances kept him from playing for long stretches, his love for the game never wavered. Over the years he and his brothers coordinated several golf outings – including golf-a- palooza – and after his children had grown up he was able to pursue the passion more intently. It was through golfing that he met his dear friend (and championship winning partner) Phil Hanson, a relationship he would grow to treasure immeasurably.

A passion that he cultivated later in life was cooking. For many years, cooking was about making dishes like “pasta surprise” and other quick, cheap, and easy-to-prepare meals to feed a crowd with what was on hand. It was taking local culinary classes that allowed him to fully appreciate and find pleasure in the endless experimentation that goes into creating and tweaking recipes. A few of his favorite dishes to prepare were beef stroganoff, pork ribs, and his attempts to recreate his mother’s chicken paprikash. He was always a fan of a teppanyaki dinner with a good show and better food, and tasting menus (preferably with the wine pairing) were always a good option to celebrate a special occasion.

Peter is survived by his sons, Michael (Ashley) and Daniel Virag; life partner, Natalie Price; brother, Edward Virag (Sharon); sister-in-law, Miriam Virag; 3 stepsons, Aaron, Nathan, and Bryan Noble; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his brothers Thomas and Dean Virag, and parents John and Margaret Virag.

A visitation to honor Peter will be held on Saturday, April 30, from 1:00-2:00 p.m., with a celebration of life to follow immediately after at 2:00 p.m. Both events will be at Speaks Suburban Chapel, 18020 E. 39th Street, Independence, MO 64055. The celebration of life will also be live streamed via the Speaks Chapels page for those who would like to virtually attend instead.


Help for Healing

Following is a writing from a “gofundme” crowdfunding page (Help for Healing) prepared for Peter Virag by Natalie Price-Tornabene. Natalie created the page on April 2, 2018 and updated the page on April 8, 2018 and April 22, 2018.

April 2, 2018 – Created by Natalie Price-Tornabene, Organizer

Cancer - one of the three scariest words in my vocabulary. Cancer - that was the diagnosis today. Then the words started flying: adenocarcinoma, enlarged lymph nodes, Colo-rectal surgery, radiation treatments, chemotherapy. My thoughts raced to things like life expectancy and effectiveness of treatment. Peter’s went to money - not what it would cost him....just that he didn’t have any to pay for it.

My name is Natalie Price, I am a substitute teacher, and make $15 dollars an hour on the days I get to work. This isn’t my story, though in some ways it is - it is the story about the man I love and what, if anything, I can do to help him.

I fell in love with Peter 2 years ago after my marriage of 32 years ended. I was in love with my ex and the divorce shattered me. I never imagined I would find anyone who could matter as much to me as this man does. I want you to get to know him too so that maybe you will see he is worthy of your help.

Some people are lucky. We are - to have met each other - but Peter’s life has not been filled with luck, it’s been filled with responsibility and hard work- and love for his children - which anyone who has ever had kids knows, is hard work. Peter raised 5 boys, 3 from his ex-wife’s first marriage, and 2 they had together. None of them are in a position to help, nor would he ever ask them to.

Proud yes, pride no. This is a man who worked hard to support his family, put his ex-wife through nursing school, put himself through school and sent his kids to college. He has never asked for anything and when it would have been easier to give in, give up or ask for a handout he just worked longer hours. He never ever quit.

Now he is sick and it’s getting harder to work and every day it takes a bigger toll. I see him wasting away before my eyes - 35 pounds gone unexplainably – (losing weight is supposed to be a good thing, right?) or at least until today – Cancer.

Peter is a rich man in all the ways that should count but won’t pay the bills. He’s honorable, keeps his word, tells the truth. He’s smart, funny and so talented musically and otherwise. He’s a good father, a responsible citizen, takes care of his humble home. Peter has a brilliant mind and quick wit. He is the best kind of father, loving, gentle but firm, and tries to live the example he wants to set for his children and loves them with all his heart. To me he is my confident, my lover and my friend. I can’t imagine the world without him in it.

Anyone who knows Peter can tell you he is one of the hardest working people they have ever met. He has a reputation for being smart, dependable and going the extra mile but more importantly he makes the journey fun. He’s a team player who has earned the respect of his supervisors and peers.

Due to its current location and size, this tumor is inoperable at this time - too problematic per the surgeon. The plan is to attack it with chemotherapy and radiation in an effort to shrink it in size, allowing for surgery to have it removed-followed by more chemotherapy.

So where does a person - who has never asked for anything their entire lives go for help when they need it?

The answer is they don’t. That is the reason I am writing this go fund me request. Please help me help him afford the medicine and treatment he needs to combat this terrible disease, so he can fight the good fight without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost. It might be curable with the right combination of care. He just can’t afford it and I don’t know of any other way to make it available.

Would you please help?

April 8, 2018 – Updated by Natalie Price-Tornabene, Organizer

Peter is home from the hospital following his first of many surgeries. He is doing well. Adjusting to the changes a colostomy requires. Please keep your thoughts and prayers coming as we prepare for chemo and radiation.

April 22, 2018 – Updated by Natalie Price-Tornabene, Organizer

First of all thanks so much to everyone who has posted a donation. You generosity and kind words have been a huge help in not only alleviating some of the financial pressure but lifting our spirits.

Peter is doing very well recuperating from the colostomy surgery and the doctors have given him the green light to proceed on to the next two phase of his Treatment.

He will begin chemo and radiation therapy on Tuesday, April 24 (my birthday). This year my wish is that the treatment works to shrink the tumor enough for us to proceed with the surgery because right now the tumor is classified as inoperable and that the side effects of the treatment aren't too severe.

The good news is he won't lose that beautiful head of hair and nausea should be minimal. Treatment will last for 6 weeks with chemo and radiation administered 5 days a week and the weekends to rebuild. 4 weeks later we will know if it had the desired effect and if we can proceed with the next surgery.

Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone who knows Peter and stay tuned as we hope to be announcing a Charity Golf Tournament in the near future. Again thank you for your generous donations and as a reminder please don't put off getting your colonoscopy if you are 50 or over.