But Missy Rebovich strikes me as someone who’s always had an independent streak (I’ve got a daughter like that just a bit older than Missy. We used to call her Little Miss Independence when she was a kid, so I should know).
So her Dad probably wasn’t surprised when Missy opted for morning classes then joined him during their mutual afternoon lunch breaks for father-daughter chats involving life, shared TV shows, gossip and the state of the world.
But I didn’t know any of this about Missy when I noticed her byline while reading Politickernj.com’s “Wake Up Call” sometime back; a compilation of each morning’s New Jersey-related political stories filed by the site’s correspondents and gleaned from newspaper websites around the state.
“By Missy Rebovich” read the byline at the top of each day’s compilation. I had known her late father, the respected and well-liked Rider University political scientist David Rebovich for the better part of 20 years, dating to my days at the Trenton Times and Asbury Park Press and on through my tenure as State House Correspondent here at NJN News.
And here was his daughter interning, it turned out, for the same political website her father had written a popular column for until his untimely death.
I had reached out to David often throughout the years, as had so many of my colleagues in the Jersey press corps. He’d done countless election nights here at the studios with us, always a point of pride among us here at NJN to have him as a studio analyst on the set surveying the ever-changing political landscape with our longtime senior anchor, Kent Manahan.
David was the number one political pundit in the state until he died suddenly of a heart attack he suffered in October 2007 in his Rider University classroom, teaching of all things a New Jersey political science class. He’d started the Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics. Not the “Institute for Politics,” mind you, but New Jersey politics. It was renamed in his honor the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics after his death. At age 58, he was far, far too young, of course.
David had a way about him where he was a friend to many of us; easy-going with a quick wit and an easy laugh.
(A quick side note here about something that I always remembered as telling about David and his humility and that I’d remind him of every once in a while and it goes like this: While at the Asbury Park Press state house bureau one day, I had quoted David in an article I was writing, spelling his name as Rebovitch (notice the “t” in there that doesn’t belong?). Eagle-eyed Herb Jackson, a fellow Asbury state house reporter at the time, now of The Record, did. He corrected me and said, ‘No, he spells it R-e-b-o-v-i-c-h. No ‘t.'” I said it couldn’t be, as I had spelled it that way forever and ever and David had never said a word about it. But Herb-I-don’t-call-him-the-Answer-Man-for-nothin’ Jackson insisted in the strongest terms that he was right. A quick call to David ensued. He was almost always available. Indeed, Herb was correct yet again. “But David,” I protested, “I’ve been misspelling your name then for ages and you’ve never said anything, never corrected me. Why not?” He said something on the order of ‘It wasn’t important. I appreciate you quoting me right and even when you don’t do that, we can’t take ourselves too seriously!'”)
Funny thing, but Missy’s a lot like her Dad. She, too, has an easy and ready laugh and she, too, doesn’t seem to take everything all that seriously. But she does, like her Dad did, harbor a deep and abiding interest in how the political and governmental world — which is to say the world we live in — works. Her Mom, Jane O’Connor, was active in politics for awhile there, too, and for a time was Governor Christie Whitman’s press secretary. In hindsight, I could’ve and probably should’ve mentioned that if not in the story that aired, then perhaps in my anchor tag from the set following the story. In any event, both parents, divorced while Missy was still young, get to share in the credit, no doubt. Missy says her stepfather, William O’Connor, a psychologist who passed away a year after her father, had an influence that’s apparent in her choice to be a psych major at school.
(A second quick side story here from my talk with Missy that sheds some more light on David and the kind of father he was. She was in middle school and had come upon a copy of the Communist Manifesto, read it through and then planned to go on to the liberal Michael Moore. She recalled a conversation with her Dad. “(Moore’s) so great, he’s so cool; he has this movie. This was the ultimate truth,'” and Dad was like, ‘No.'” So the next day he comes to pick me up from school with a Hannity book. I was to read that and understand that Michael Moore was not the ultimate truth and there are other ideas out there).
I’d met Missy only once before and briefly, at David’s wake.
Now I was gingerly reaching out to her through email to see whether she’d like to talk about her involvement with a premiere political website in the state that her father had written a column for until his passing.
Sure she said, after we’d cleared it with Politickernj editor Darryl Isherwood. And so the next time I saw her, we were meeting at the Student Union (do they still call them that?) at Rider, where she’s a senior now, to do a story on her story because I thought our viewers would be as curious as I was to find out about a daughter who seemed to be following in her well-known — and as I’ve said, very well-liked — late father’s footsteps.
The subject matter seemed to fit our audience pretty well; as our audience had come to know David well through his many appearances on NJN, let alone his appearances and quotes and writings elsewhere. And they also, I imagine, were as deeply saddened and shocked by a passing that had come way too soon.
I at first thought that I’d just blog about Missy’s story or perhaps do it as a poignant aside toward the end of the show if my colleagues here didn’t think it had enough heft to it to warrant full package treatment for the News. But to their credit, when I offered it up to our editorial team here as a possibility — particularly Michael Aron (himself a longtime friend and admirer of David’s) and our longtime producer Mike Curtis — they jumped at it.
So that’s how our story on Missy came to be. And rather than write that story up again, I figured I’d just give you the back story here and let you watch it yourselves in the link provided if you haven’t seen it on NJN News already.
She’s a good kid, Missy, like her Dad was a good man.
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