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Published: Sunday, 9/19/2010

Jim Kovacs, 1939-2010: Real-estate agent known for witticisms

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Jim Kovacs, 71, an east side real estate agent whose jokes and pet expressions endeared him to colleagues and customers, died Monday in a Kusadasi, Turkey, hospital.

The cause of death is not known, his wife, Jane, said.

"We were on our dream vacation," his wife said.

The Oregon couple were nearing the end of a Mediterranean cruise when sniffles Mr. Kovacs developed turned into chills, fever, and, the cruise ship's medics told them, pneumonia. Aboard ship, Mr. Kovacs was given oxygen and antibiotics. At Kusadasi, on Turkey's Aegean coast, the couple were told to get off so he could enter the hospital, his wife said.

"We really begged to stay on to the next port, Athens," his wife said. The Kusadasi hospital, they were told, had a modern intensive care unit with English-speaking doctors, "which was very far from the truth," his wife said. "It was very hard to communicate."

His wife was told he'd asked for something to help him sleep, but then was notified his oxygen rate was falling.

"I saw the last few heartbeats. It was very sudden, very unexpected," his wife said. "He said the night before he felt better."

Mr. Kovacs sold residential real estate and was based at the Danberry Co. office in Oregon since the early 2000s. Earlier, he worked for the former Mohon Realty and its successors.

"He was almost like our office mascot," said Chris Hall, a Danberry vice president and manager of the Oregon and Perrysburg offices. "He was a great influence and a great personality."

Family, co-workers, and customers knew his witticisms, his signature phrases. Asked how he was, he was apt to say he was "'doing about 90 percent - not bad for a guy my age,'" his wife said, adding that some colleagues called him "Agent 90."

Those who said on parting that they were glad to see him likely heard, "I am glad you got to see me."

"He was so much fun," his wife said. "He made everybody laugh. He was great to be around.

"People liked him and trusted him," she said. "He was a very honorable man."

Mr. Kovacs had repeat business, even to the generations that followed his early customers.

"Jim was not in it for the next deal. He was long term," Mr. Hall said. "He was all about relationships and treating people right."

He formerly worked for the salvage business A. Edelstein & Son.

He was born April 24, 1939, to Sophia and Michael Kovacs and grew up in East Toledo. He was a 1957 graduate of Waite High School.

He and his hockey-playing buddies hung out at the Toledo Sports Arena, often bartering their ice resurfacing efforts in the days before machines for skate time.

He was an Army veteran and while stationed in Alaska played on a team that won the state championship there, his wife said.

His heart broke when the Sports Arena was demolished. He and his wife had their wedding reception in the Exhibit Hall. But he already had tickets to attend an upcoming Toledo Walleye hockey game.

He also was a University of Toledo football season ticket holder.

He was a former president of the Exchange Club of the Greater Maumee Bay.

Surviving are his wife, Jane, whom he married May 21, 1966; sons, Michael and Matthew Kovacs; brothers, Joe and Jerry Kovacs; and sister, Jeanette Berg.

Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Sunay and from 3-9 p.m. Monday in the Hoeflinger-Bolander Funeral Home, Oregon, with a Scripture service at 7 p.m. Monday. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Sacred Heart Church in East Toledo, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to Sacred Heart Church, where he was a member; Cardinal Stritch High School, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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