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Carl Kovac, 1934-2004


Carl Kovac was a warrior. He was a warrior for his country while serving as a United States Marine from 1953-1956 during the Korean Conflict. He was a warrior for society in his lifelong profession as a journalist.

He always passionately argued for the very best of journalism, journalism which asked the hard questions and let readers know what something really meant to them or how it fit in the bigger picture. The petty, indulgent or trivial which sometimes creeps into newsprint disgusted him. He was also a warrior for the
intellect. He had a wonderful sharp probing mind intrigued by almost any subject in search of knowing more and understanding what made things tick.

Carl was a guy who could be counted on to make anyone within shouting distance laugh after a few moments. From when he first came to Budapest in 1994, we knew him as both a friend and a colleague. He was the kind who keep his friends and those who knew him always glad to be with him. He was the kind that when a country has children of his sort, the world becomes a better place because of who they are. But this warrior has left the struggle behind this weekend and passed on. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

Adam Lebor, John Nadler, Robin Marshall, Stephen O'Connor, Stephen Saracco, Julius Strauss

* * *

Mike Comerford adds:

When you're all sitting the around Iguana telling Carl stories, here are my two classic Carl stories. Once, we were sitting around the Miner's Pub at our first office and Carl was criticizing Anita for "Not knowing any
Hungarian." I said, "Carl, you don't speak it either."

"Yes I do" he says.

"I said, Carl, say the word 12 in Hungarian."

He looked bewildered and said "I can't believe it I'm blocking right now."

I said that's because you don't speak Hungarian.

Then he went on to tell a story about meeting the German ambassador and, you know what, he forgot how to speak German. I don't know if he ever mastered Hungarian in the 10 years he was there but I remember the old days, he couldn't say 12 but never wavered on his belief in his linguistic skills.

The other story is about how he got his nickname "Mr. Paprika." I gave it to him. It was a hot summer of 94 or 95, when poisoned paprika killed some people in the city and there was a brief ban on paprika. I gave the assignment to Carl, at the end of the week he came back saying "The guy who knows everything about paprika is on vacation."

I said this country is full of paprika experts call someone else. The end of the second week he comes back saying "The other guy who knows about paprika is also on vacation." I said you better not come back here next week without someone who knows something about paprika. He did it. But three weeks in the works. I called him Mr. Paprika as a joke.

Then CNN and Wall Street Journal called the newsroom after they saw our coverage, he got onto rolodexes around the world as a paprika resource. He came to love the moniker, once meant to be a joking reminder of the three week endeavor for a story about paprika.

So long Mr. Paprika, you were worth the wait and best part of the story was you.

* * *

Here also is a link to the Budapest Sun's remembrance, including a personal retrospective Carl wrote for the Sun back in December 2000.

We would love to hear any stories you may have to share about Carl.

Rick E. Bruner | Gen Expat Life Updates | Jul 14, 2004 | Comments (12)


Rest in Peace, Carl.

Jim Lowney | Jul 14, 2004

So long Carl. You were always fun to talk/listen to.

Christian Jacobsen | Jul 15, 2004

Carl was like a father.

I was one of the first to meet him when he showed up for work at the Sun in 1994.

I was Carl's, Mike's and other journalist's monkey aka "editorial assistant" way back then.

He was fun to work with, never pushing, always patient and he knew just the way to spin a boring theme (like his dog-doo story when also elaborating on how dogs also bark in "French" and in Hunagrian) into a front page article.

In April Kati Tordas, Linda Gyulai and Carl has a brief meeting at the Angelica cafe, It was the last time we saw him really laugh...

Life will never be the same, but the show goes one
With the going down of the sun we will remember you, dear friend.

God bless
Kati Tordas, Linda Gyulai and Tamas Kiss

| Jul 15, 2004

Carl - you witnessed so much and shared so much when unexperienced green bean journalists like me would show up at the Budapest Week offices. Will never forget the oversized glasses, the warmhearted voice telling jokes and stories from another time when people would cultivate their sources at bars and chat with the cops. Before even having lived in America, I was already nostalgic of the America you were talking about, and of the "old style" journalism you were found of. Au revoir, Carl.
It's very sad news. Thank you Rick for letting us, expats from across the globe, know through this site.

Emmanuelle | Jul 18, 2004

Bottom's up, my friend. Hopefully the journalism "committed" in heaven is better than the journalism committed on earth --or at least Ohio.

I'm glad I knew you.

Caren Chesler
New York City

Caren Chesler | Jul 26, 2004

Hello all,

It's been a year that Carl's left us.
Pls spend a minute with us to remember him.
I spoke to his wife Agota on Friday. She is well and hopeful of the future.

God Bless you all
Tamás S. Kiss

Tamás S. Kiss | Jul 15, 2005

Hello all,

It's been a year that Carl's left us.
Pls spend a minute with us to remember him.
I spoke to his wife Agota on Friday. She is well and hopeful of the future.

God Bless you all
Tamás S. Kiss

Tamás S. Kiss | Jul 15, 2005

Carl, as a newbie journalist I looked up to you as a "real" one, and now I'll be looking up to you in heaven. I remember a lot of laughs (and beer) with you and Theo. You were a part of an important period in my life and I'll never forget you.


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rvfpdqgb haqngrbje | Nov 26, 2007

Sadly, I never had the pleasure of meeting my cousin Carl. He sounded like a wonderful human being. May our paths cross one day on the other side.

Pamela Kovac Eccles | Jul 31, 2009