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Obituaries

Man Found Dead In Cove Worked With NYC Opera, Became Chef

Keith Viagas
Keith Viagas Photo Credit: Robert Viagas

A man whose body was found in a Long Island cove has been identified as a former employee of the New York City Opera and a chef who had a lifelong passion for music.

Keith Viagas, of Sag Harbor, died on Saturday, Aug. 6, from drowning near his home in Sag Harbor Cove. He was age 63.

Viagas grew up in Franklin Square, attending both John Street School and H. Frank Carey High School, where he appeared in musicals, according to his obituary.

His late father, Anthony Viagas, was a jazz musician, and Viagas lived in a home filled with music. 

"At one point Keith would be playing piano while his father practiced drums and vibraphone in the basement and his younger brother, the late Charles Viagas, played drums with his rock band in the garage. It was a glorious cacophony," said his brother Robert Viagas. 

Viagas pursued degrees in both law and music in college, eventually studying music theory and composition at The Juilliard School in New York City, his obituary said.

His unusual twin background earned him a job at New York City Opera, where he rose to the position of Director for Artistic Planning at the opera’s Lincoln Center headquarters. 

After leaving City Opera, Viagas pursued his interests in cooking, becoming a chef with Wild by Nature stores where he created gourmet meals, including bountiful Thanksgiving feasts, for hundreds of customers, his brother said. 

"Keith never lost his interest in music, his brother said. "Every Christmas Eve he would take part in family concerts. One of the highlights was his transposition of cheery Christmas carols into hilariously scary minor keys to the delight of his younger relatives."

In a brief foray into movies, he played the role of a priest in the 2018 horror film "Cain."

Keith had a wide circle of friends in Sag Harbor and he often boated on Peconic Bay where he happily spent what turned out to be his final days, his obituary said.

He is survived by his partner of 36 years, Stephen Loeffler, his mother, Lillian Viagas, his elder brother, Robert Viagas, sister-in-law Donna Martin-Viagas, and several nephews and nieces.

"Rest in Peace dear Keith. Your memory will continue to enrich our lives forever," his brother Robert said.

Details for a celebration of Viagas' life will be forthcoming.

Donations in his memory to support scholarships at Juilliard may be made to The Julliard School online at giving.juilliard.edu, by mail via check payable to The Juilliard School, sent to the Development Office, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023.

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