A Kidder Known for His Sharp Mind

February 5, 2002

In those first weeks after Lt. Anthony Jovic disappeared with other members of Engine Co. 279 at the World Trade Center, his wife, Cynthia, concentrated on being strong for his two boys, Matthew, 10, and Peter, 9. So she had a little psychological trick she played on herself to keep going.

"I'd say, 'He's working today. He's going to come home tonight,'" she recalled. "That night it would be, 'OK, he's working tonight, he's going to come home tomorrow.' Every day I'd tell myself the same thing."

It was because Cynthia Jovic can't imagine morning coffee without her husband of 16 years, a big kidder and hugger-and-kisser who never got through a day without several times telling her and the boys he loved them.

The son of a Croatian longshoreman who grew up in Hell's Kitchen, Jovic, 39, impressed all his friends as being smart enough to win the big one on "Jeopardy!" The couple met in Manhattan, when he was working at a butcher shop on Ninth Avenue and she, also a Croatian immigrant and longshoreman's daughter, was working at a deli nearby. When a cousin suggested they all go to an Irish pub in New Hyde Park, Jovic drove to pick her up in Manhattan in the most formal manner, allowing plenty of time to chat first with her mother and father at the house. For her old-fashioned European parents, his wife said, "it was love at first sight."

For the couple, too. They married 2 1/2 years later.

Jovic joined the city fire department 12 years ago, about the time the family moved from Elmhurst to Massapequa Park. He was aiming high, and once he made lieutenant was already spending every free day he could find to prepare for the captain's exam, which he would have taken in October. When not working or studying, it was miniature golf, bowling, and lots of swimming with the family in the backyard pool. They were so close, she could finish his sentences for him.

"We were the happiest when we were together," she said.

Cynthia Jovic was watching CNN on Sept. 11; she knew it was bad, because her husband was working with the company in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that day.

"When that [south] tower came down, his soul went right through me. I knew it then, he just went through me and I knew he was gone," she said. His burned and mangled shield turned up in the south tower in November, shortly before a memorial service was held, but no remains have been identified.

The memory of that moment has become a source of warmth and comfort lately, now that it's no longer possible for her to pretend her husband is coming home tonight, or tomorrow morning, or the next day. Now, Cynthia Jovic knows, he's with her and the kids all the time.

"He always told me, 'Every time they take an ID picture, I try to look nice, because you never know when they might be using it for a memorial.' I'll be honest with you, I think he looks wonderful in the picture that they have of him."

-- Elizabeth Moore (Newsday)






http://cf1.newsday.infi.net/911/victimsearch.cfm?id=454