James Andrew Kovac left us far too early and unexpectedly in the evening of July 10, 2023 at his home in Panorama City, California. He was 28.
"Jamie," as he was known to his family and many friends, grew up in New Jersey. Bursting with creative energy and gifted with a quick wit, and natural artistic and musical skill, Jamie was engaged in everything at once it seemed. In Mahwah, he taught himself guitar, dabbled in art, and played baseball and street hockey with his brothers and neighborhood friends. Alas, Jamie also had a flare for mischief. One afternoon, he was escorted home by the local police who had caught him, aged 10, on the roof of the Betsy Ross Elementary School.
In 2007, the family moved to Montclair where Jamie -- or "J- Boogie" as he was sometimes known (and as we sometimes found scrawled into newly laid sidewalk slabs in town) -- quickly accumulated a massive number of friends and, quite literally, reigned supreme as a skateboard trickster to the envy and awe of his peers. (One afternoon, a young boy, unknown to us and to Jamie, appeared at our door, inquiring as to whether Jamie had lived there -- THE Jamie Kovac, he said -- who might be available to demonstrate his skills and help this young novice with his own developing skills). Jamie came to love dogs during this time, somehow managing to co-opt the family pug as his own.
Jamie quickly grew into a fiercely independent and resourceful teenager. We used to "joke" to friends in attempting to distinguish Jamie from his brothers and step-brothers, that if we lined them up and handed each nothing more than a nickel with instructions to make it to Brooklyn and back before nightfall, only Jamie would be able to complete the task.
Blessed with a tall, thin physique, solid jawline, and piercing blue eyes, as a young adult Jamie tried his hand at modeling. For two years, he pounded the pavement in New York City, achieving modest success with print ads and occassional runway gigs. This period produced some fantastic photographs -- cool black and whites oozing with James Dean-like intensity, angst and style. We are lucky to have them.
Around 2014, Jamie relocated to Los Angeles in search of a lifestyle change and to further pursue a career in modeling. There he later settled in with his girlfriend (and ultimate fiancé), Valerie Belding, and a french bulldog named Draco and hustled a living as only Jamie knew how.
Like most of us, Jamie had his share of struggles, but he faced those struggles unwaveringly and with dignity and grace and always in pursuit of a better life. We are heart-broken to have lost him in the midst of that struggle and at such a young age.
Jamie is survived by his fiancé, Valerie Belding; father, Deron Kovac; mother and step-father, Beth Lawler and Andrew Pincus; brothers, Chris and Kyle; step-brothers, Jake and Logan; grand-parents, Anne Lawler and Ronald and Dorine Kovac; and aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family. His grandfather, Kevin Lawler, passed away in 2016.
Funeral services will be held at Halpin-Bitecola Funeral Home located at 1284 Broad Street, Bloomfield, New Jersey 07003 on Friday, July 21, 2023. The funeral home will be open for guests between 4pm and 8pm, with a prayer service to begin at 5:30, and reflections and remarks by family and friends beginning at 7:00 p.m. There will also be a live-stream on this site.
Donations can be made in Jamie's name to Animal Alliance (Animal Alliance (animalalliancenj.org) )