Sako, friends and family recalled, was too small to make any of the competitive sports teams at Churchill. But he tried out for every one he could.
“He was very, very persistent,” said father Sarkis Nazarian, recalling his son’s love of surfing. “Ever since he was five, six, he was a little guy. We have a condo on the oceanfront in Ocean City. This guy would take his little surfboard. He will swim, wait for a wave, the wave will come, 95 percent of the time he won’t make it. But just for that 5 percent that he will catch a little wave. And then he will go back.”
That was Sako — all heart.
The Nazarian family lost their son in a car accident last Friday night, and received friends at their home on Falls Road throughout the weekend. An elaborate memorial to Sako was the centerpiece of the living room where family member sat crying and Churchill classmates stood comforting one another. Sako's surfboard sat behind the two chairs covered in pictures of the curly-haired teen. Close friends of Sako's hugged Sarkis Nazarian one by one as they left.
"You've got to remember we're going to live Sako through you. Please don't forget us, keep coming," Sarkis Nazarian said to one of the young men, both of them in tears.
“He would do anything for anybody,” said Sako’s older half-brother Chris. “When he walked into a room everybody was just drawn to him … He would go to Sunday school and the kids would just surround him.”
That charisma followed Sako into high school at Churchill, Chris said. “He seemed to move between groups. The nerds who loved science and math and he was also one of the cool guys,” Chris said. Sako was one of those purely unselfconscious people whose charisma and sincerity were so plain that it was nearly impossible not to like him.
“He had no enemies,” said Kevin Krainson, a friend since 6th grade. “He was the nicest guy in the world. It was just the wrong kid to happen to. … No one disliked him.”
Almost from her birth, Sako and his younger sister Tamar were inseparable. “He was pretty much the best big brother to my little sister that anyone could have. … She didn’t go anywhere without him he didn’t go anywhere without her,” Chris Nazarian said.
Sako and Tamar were also very close to Jeff Nazarian, the youngest of four older half-siblings who have the same father. Their other surviving half-siblings are Chris and Victor Nazarian. A third half-brother, Kirk, died of colon cancer last year at the age of 32.
“He never, ever, would do anything … to upset me. It meant a lot to him. For me to be upset was something wrong,” said Sako’s father Sarkis Nazarian. “To me he was the sweetest boy. Those words, ‘Daddy’ the words when they came out of his mouth, I loved it. It was like a sweet sugar words that were coming out of his mouth.”
“I can remember everything,” said half-brother Jeff. “He always says ‘Yeah man,’” Jeff said, leaning back at the shoulders and cocking his head to the side in an impersonation of Sako. A classmate who had been crying turned around and laughed, seeming to take comfort in the perfect imitation of her friend. “I wish I was the cushion wrapped around him when he hit whatever he hit,” said Jeff Nazarian.
Sako’s funeral service will be held Wednesday at Soorp Katch Armenian Church, 4906 Flint Dr., Bethesda. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions the church for the 9th Grade Sunday School Classroom Construction Memorial Fund. For more info, visit www.mem.com.