It is with great pain that I relay the funeral details for my brother, Jake Varghese (06.30.78 - 12.29.21). Due to the pandemic, the safety of our family, and of yours, we ask that you please respect our restrictions. We wish we could cry on the shoulder of our families, swap stories with his friends, and hear in person tributes from his colleagues. Unfortunately, this is not our current reality. He would want to protect all of us.
Viewing (Open to All)
- Please join us in paying your respects one last time. To prevent congregating indoors, there are no planned prayers, songs, or tributes. Masks required
- Date: Sunday, January 16th, 2022
- Time: 2:00PM - 4:00PM (CST)
- Location: St. Mary's Orthodox Church of India - 1080 W Jackson Rd, Carrollton, TX 75006
Funeral Service (Family Only)
- With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, this liturgical service will be conducted for our family only in person. All are welcome to participate via live stream. My eulogy will be conducted as well. Masks required
- Date: Monday, January 17th, 2022
- Time: 10:00AM - 11:00AM (CST)
- Live Stream:
- Or also can be found at https://www.youtube.com/c/UnitedMediaLive
Interment (Open to All)
- Please join us for the final burial. This will be outdoors and provided via live stream. Masks required
- Date: Monday, January 17th, 2022
- Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM (CST)
- Location: Turrentine Jackson Morrow Funeral Home - 2525 N Central Expy, Allen, TX 75013
- Live Stream:
- Or also can be found at https://www.youtube.com/c/UnitedMediaLive
Mr. Jacob (Jake) Varghese was born on June 30, 1978 to Isac Jo Varghese and Pennamma Varghese in Chicago, Illinois. He became an older brother to Mathew Varghese in 1982. His family moved to Dallas, TX in 1985. Jake graduated from West Mesquite High School in 1996 and completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. While in college, along with 17 other friends, he created Delta Epsilon Psi, now one of the largest south asian fraternities in the nation at over 30 colleges. He was also renowned for being one of the best DJs that Austin had to offer.
Jake moved back to Dallas in 2012 after the passing of his father. In that same year, he gained a sister, Merin Varghese. He rededicated himself to family, became an uncle to Elias Jo Varghese in 2017 and Isaac George Varghese in 2018. He loved his nephews deeply.
In 2019, he moved near San Francisco to immerse himself in the tech industry. Not only did he work full-time at a tech company, he became a tireless activist, committed to do everything in his abilities to make this world a more just, sustainable, liveable place, always thinking about the poorest and most excluded in our society first. He focused his energy on affordable housing, practical actions to reduce the crisis of homelessness. He was an idealist, optimist, and pragmatist all at the same time. He coded, drafted policies, organized public town halls, served on the board of the local public radio station, and was instrumental in advancing public banking in the Bay Area. He lived by the Golden Rule, inspired that it was incumbent on us, as humans with free will, to make Heaven on Earth.
Jake passed away on December 29, 2021 from a heart attack. May we continue in his absence and in every decision, every action, every moment, ask ourselves - Am I doing unto others what I would want done unto me? That’s how we change the world.
How do you measure a life well lived? As I reflect upon my brother’s life, hear tribute after tribute from his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow activists, it’s dawning on me that none of us got all of Jake. He shared himself freely, different pieces at different times with different people. I’m thankful for that. The void is inexplicable. How many more people would he have impacted? How will my kids be shaped in his absence?
The real question is, how would Jake measure his own life? At his core, he was his father’s son. I’ll leave you all with his tribute to my father, a true measuring stick. I believe each of us would nod our heads in agreement, yes it was far too short, but a life well lived.
A Letter to My Father My Brother/Son/Relative/Friend
Hi Dad Jake,
Thanks for being there when we needed you.
Thanks for teaching us everything we needed to know and then teaching us more.
Thanks for teaching us to always look for the simple solution, because it will always be the best solution.
Thanks for teaching us that stupidity and arrogance is the most dangerous combination.
Thanks for teaching us that intelligence without compassion is useless and can be just as dangerous.
Thanks for teaching us that wealth and power are meaningless by themselves and that the true measure of a man is how they use their wealth and power.
Thanks for teaching us to be generous in the good times and patient in the bad times.
Thanks for teaching us how to see the world; not as it is, but how it could be.
Thanks for teaching us to laugh at ourselves.
Thanks for teaching us about Jesus.
Thanks for teaching us how to be kind.
Thanks for teaching us how to help.
Thanks for teaching us how to forgive.
Thanks for teaching us how to be generous.
Thanks for teaching us how to fight injustice.
Thanks for helping us realize that the underlying principle behind all your lessons was simple: be compassionate.
I promise we will use your knowledge only to help.
We will miss you Dad Jake.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you” -Luke 6:31
Good morning everyone. First of all, on behalf of our family, thank you all for your love and support. To say these past few weeks have been difficult would be an understatement. We wish we could mourn on the shoulders of our family, swap memories with his friends, or hear all of your tributes to Jake in person without fear of endangering our kids and family members due to this pandemic. This is not our reality. It’s been tough.
Second, I’m going to try and speed read through this while I hope for a few moments of numbness. I apologize upfront, as I started to put pen to paper, this tribute became longer and longer. Jake was deep, took his God-given time, talents, and treasures and shared it freely. Yet, he did not boast. So, if you were the lucky few to really know him, get past his deflector shields of “I’m chillen, It’s tight, Word”, consider yourself blessed. He’s impacted more people in his short life than most of us can hope for in a hundred years. How do you eulogize such a man? I just hope to give you a glimpse on what I believe influenced him throughout his life, what he believed in, and what he would hope for all of us.
In order to understand who Jake was, you need to know our parents. My mom is our spiritual cornerstone. You ask any of us 1st generation kids that grew up in America, church was hard, Orthodoxy was very hard. Every Sunday. Every evening. We prayed. I didn’t even know what Sunday brunch was until I went to college. No excuses, my mom made sure we read the bible, said our evening prayers, and then each of us prayed out loud. It became repetitive and Jake would always end with the same request - “Lord, be our light, so we can be a light to others to make heaven on earth”. I found out recently, as tributes from his California network and friends started to pour in, just how much that became his life’s mission over the past several years - as humans with free will, it’s up to us to make heaven on earth.
My father was Jake’s idol. His hero. He left his family in Kerala right after high school and moved to Bombay in the 60s, the Hollywood of India. He was a graphic designer and photographer, did a lot of advertising work. As he told us story after story, Jake and I essentially pictured Mad Men office hours - glass of whiskey, smoking was common, extravagant parties, it was very romanticized. He moved to Chicago in his late 30s, got married, had a studio on Michigan Mile for a few years, had his 2 kids then moved to Dallas in the early 80s. My dad was always self-employed. Not only that he created a side business called Shilpi Studios where he sold his artistic designs mostly to the Indian community. Very uncommon in that day. That yearning for a Hollywood lifestyle, be next to the action, and that same passion and drive to create something from nothing was instrumental in Jake’s life.
Jake and I are 4 years apart, so growing up that chasm in shared hobbies was large early on. By the time I was in 3rd grade, he was already in middle school. I was the kid always outside, riding my bike, playing ball, just being active in elementary school. Jake was at home working on Star Trek models, playing video games, listening to music, or locked away for hours in his room reading everything and anything, and I mean hours upon hours, days upon days. When I used to think about those times, I was sad for him. He seemed isolated. I only saw a closed bedroom door. What I didn’t appreciate was his uncanny thirst for knowledge. He wanted to know everything about everything. Not only that, but to the nth degree. No one understood why he was so good at video games. He never lost at Street Fighter 2 or Mortal Kombat. He beat The Legend of Zelda and any other difficult game in just a few days. His secret - he read every single Nintendo Power magazine or any other resource he could find from cover to cover. He soaked up every minute detail. He realized early on that knowledge was power. He was powerful.
We grew up in a house where our parents never yelled or spanked us. I have a 4 and 3 year old, I’m always yelling. Jake and I were always yelling growing up. As the older child, he always tested the boundaries. He somehow had a knack for breaking things, even at other people’s homes. We were in trouble a lot, as any kids were, but my dad’s form of punishment was for us to stand in the corner, reflect upon what we did, and then we’d talk about it. Honestly we’d rather have been spanked some of those times, just get it over with. Those discussions were long, but my dad was always about dialogue, communication. Let’s talk. Our older cousins would come over and there’d be philosophical discussions for hours. I was usually upstairs, bouncing off the walls, but Jake would partake. He held his own with cousins and family friends that were 10-20 years older. 2 ears to listen, 1 mouth to talk. He soaked it up, but when he spoke, he spoke with authority.
All of a sudden Jake enters high school and becomes this social butterfly. He joined JROTC, Drama Club, even made a music video with his friends using a Crash Test Dummies song. I remember watching him during one of his school plays, he had the whole audience cracking up. His teacher came to talk to us afterwards, beaming from ear to ear, ‘Jake is one of our best students. He has this passion for acting’, she said. Even at church, growing up at St. Thomas, we would put on these talent shows. A place for several groups among several churches would perform songs, devotionals, dances. We had a group of knuckleheads. We’d do these silly skits and Jake would always go off script, have everyone dying laughing. He just had this knack of knowing who his audience was and how to get them to fall in love with him. He lit up a room. To his church friends I say this, even if you haven’t talked to him in years or decades, understand that he loved you guys as family.
His love for music grew exponentially from high school into college. We always joked about his 1987 hatchback accord. It had ‘Superfly’ decaled on the back window. The sound system was worth way more than the car. You always heard Jake coming before he pulled up. Jake became a DJ in college, DJ Superfly later coined Jakob Stiles. No surprise, he was one of the best Austin had to offer. As one friend said, he was so good that oftentimes the party would follow Jake. He mastered playing vinyl records, but at the same time always had the latest gadgets to enhance his craft. Again, every minute detail there was to know, he knew it - mixer, equalizer, fader, pitch, hundred features/settings, very complex if you really wanted to dive into it. He did. Essentially a self taught audio engineer. Master craftsman.
During college, not only was he working on a computer science degree, but he also started a fraternity. He was one of 18 people that came together to create something from nothing, sound familiar? Guess who established that website and all the behind the scenes tech related tools to get the movement going? It started at 1 college with an idea of brother, discipline, and commitment. Delta Epsilon Psi is now one of the largest south asian fraternities in the nation located at over 30 colleges and focused on giving back to the community. How do I even begin to describe his decade plus in Austin? I just don’t have time. He thrived. He became a man. He loved that city. He loved the people. He loved the progressive ideology. He loved, loved, breakfast tacos. Even when we talked about that, he went into detail on egg ratio vs potato vs cheese and how some places like Juan in a Million got it right and some places didn’t. All of ya’ll that were blessed enough to interact with Jake during that span of his life, know that he loved ya’ll. Plain and simple. Too many people. Too many stories. He loved ya’ll.
Fast forward to 2012. I think this was a defining year for Jake. I got married, our father passed. Our family, his friends started to see a change in him. More focused. More family oriented. Cherished his friendships. My eldest was born in 2017, my youngest in 2018. Jake became an uncle, Veliya papa, which translates to Big Papa. He loved that. If he wasn’t wearing his burnt orange UT fleece in summertime, he was wearing his Godfather t-shirt. He took that seriously. For the first two years, Eli, my eldest, wailed every time he walked through the door, this big burly guy, but now if you ask him, he can’t wait for the bear hug and to tell him everything he did since the last time he talked to him. He became the gentle giant that we all know and love. I can’t express what his loss means to my family or how it’ll continue to affect us for years/decades to come, how my kids would be shaped differently were he here.
Even though he started to soften on the idea of family life - wife and kids, you could still sense this underlying restlessness. He always had this desire to move to Cali, the bollywood of US, film making, start-ups, create something from nothing. Why wouldn’t he? He was his father’s son. It wasn’t until he passed and his community of progressive activists held a tribute for him that we started to really get a sense of what he was up to these past few years. It was held by Our Revolution, individuals that were inspired by Bernie Sanders, who continue to shape policy. 2 hours, 60+ people paying tribute. I’ll relay that recording soon and urge you all to watch it. It gives better insight into his motivation and impact than I am able to describe at this moment. Ultimately that little boy that prayed to be a light for others in order to make heaven on earth, took action. He became a tireless activist, committed to do everything in his abilities to make this world a more just, sustainable, liveable place, always thinking about the poorest and most excluded in our society first. He coded, drafted policies, organized public town halls, served on the board of the local public radio station, and was instrumental in advancing public banking in the Bay Area. Mind you, this was on the side of working full-time at a tech company. During that tribute, there was a reference to this Oct 23rd Town Hall where Jake presented his ideas on affordable housing and homelessness - “Jake was an expert on intersectionality of justice issues, the critical connection between housing, economics, racial equality and the environment. He proved it. Real solutions on how to deal with housing affordability crisis, fix land crisis by looking at what other cities/countries are doing. Provided roadmap for years to come.” He became a Master Craftsman. Everyone on the call was convinced he had a double or he never slept. He never boasted, so even among themselves they didn’t know the breadth of impact he had. Let me quote just a few adjectives used to describe him - he was an idealist, optimist and pragmatist all at the same time, a force, fierce, passionate, always had your back, encouraged everyone, did the little things, teacher, thought leader, champion. Ultimately he was driven by this - If a policy lacks ethics or justice then it’s a failed policy. To his work colleagues and progressive network, I’m thankful to have shared my brother with you these last few years. You fulfilled him as much as he fulfilled you.
You know, one of my last cherished memories with Jake was sitting on the beach in Florida with him this past labor day weekend. Just the two of us. We had about an hour. And if you know my kids, that’s hard to get.
Hey Jake, what’d you think of Black Widow
It was tight
Oh yeah? (me wanting to just poke him a bit) heard it deviated from the comics
Well Natasha Romanoff was actually married to Red Guardian in the comic books but plays a father figure in the movie whereas Melina Vostokoff plays the love interest here. She’s actually Iron Maiden in the comics, but this arrangement works within the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline.
Oh yeah? That’s cool
If you don’t know Jake, you’ll get this superficial response first - “it’s tight”, “just chillen”, “I’m good”, “Word”, but if you really know Jake, you know how to press that one button to get him to open up. And then? The floodgates open. There’s countless stories like that where he said things that went way over my head. I’ll miss that. A lot.
So how do I summarize who Jake was? He was a recluse yet social butterfly, loud and opinionated yet gentle giant, had a superficial top layer “chillen” “tight”, yet poured everything into life. He was a Master Craftsman. He was a creator. I even heard recently that he convinced a few non-believer friends that God exists, had a way of logically explaining away their doubts. He invested time in you. My dad was his hero. He was mine.