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Despite some low-key match-making by the parish priest (“He wanted me to marry the organist who was related to him!"), the former Anna Vargo followed her 8th-grade dream and entered the Nazareth community just before turning 18.
A native of Gallitzin, PA, she spent summers picking berries with her family, traveling by train with her mother and sister to Altoona to sell them. As a postulant in Pittsburgh, she taught at Immaculate Heart of Mary, then moved to St. Stanislaus, Cleveland, teaching 90 third-graders.
Asked by the Provincial Superior to change her ministry to nursing, Sr. Leona attended Ohio Valley General Hospital for her RN, then Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, for her B.S. Eventually, she served at the then new Mercy Hospital in Altoona (now Altoona Regional Health System). Sr. Leona also ministered at Ohio Valley General Hospital, McKees Rocks, PA; Holy Family Institute; and Holy Family Manor and Mt. Nazareth Learning Center, both in Pittsburgh.
In her senior year at nursing school, she was supervisor of the operating room. At various times, she was a nursing supervisor and director of nursing. Acknowledging her skills as well as her kindness, many of her fellow sisters called her “Dr. Vargo.”
Sr. Leona died on April 28.