Broadway was his beat

Well-known wanderer made impact on community

The story last week in the Bayonne Community News about the death of Anton Grinkovich sparked a slew of phone calls and emails by people in every walk of life who recalled knowing him and expressed sadness at his passing.
In retrospect, the question of how Grinkovich managed to make friends with Ruth Preminger – one of the city’s most prominent citizens – seems less puzzling as more and more people emerge saying how much they cared for the man and how much they miss him now that he is gone.
Grinkovich had a home in public housing, but often wandered the streets.
He was not perfect, as Anthony Timpanaro pointed out during a telephone call last week. “We had our disagreements at times,” Timpanaro said. “But we were friends.”


“I didn’t think he had anybody in his life, so I would pick him up and take him for coffee.” – Robyn

Timpanaro pointed out an error in the story on Grinkovich that appeared in the Jan. 6 edition of the Bayonne Community News.
“Anton wasn’t found dead. He died in the hospital on Thanksgiving morning at about 12:35 a.m.,” he said.
Doctors had tried to revive him, but could not. He had been in the hospital for over a month.
“I hadn’t heard from Anton in a while,” Timpanaro said.

Buried amidst the famous and honored

Grinkovich’s body remained unclaimed by family members and was laid to rest by the state in Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, where he joins several Civil War Medal of Honor winners, congressmen, senators, even governors of the past, as well as Steven Crane, author of “The Red Badge of Courage,” Edward Stratemeyer, author and creator of “The Hardy Boys“ and “Nancy Drew,” book series, and other authors.
During his life, Grinkovich used to patrol Broadway like a neighborhood watch, pausing in stores to see how people were getting on with their lives.
Robyn, who asked that her last name not be published, said she worked in a clock store when she first met Grinkovich.
“He used to come into the store and visit me all the time,” she said. “We would get coffee together and I would help him and visit him sometimes. I didn’t think he had anybody in his life, so I would pick him up and take him for coffee.”
Last summer, after Grinkovich passed out in a public housing apartment on Avenue E and was rescued by firefighters, Robyn visited him in the hospital.
“The last time I saw him was in the hospital in July,” she said. “I knew him for years and I thought he was a very nice guy. Recently, I tried to call him. Now I know why he didn’t answer.”
Even local police officers befriended Grinkovich, such as Sgt. Joe Wolleon, who contacted the paper after reading the story last week.
“I was very sorry to read about the passing of Mr. Anton Grinkovich in the Wednesday, Jan. 6 edition of the Bayonne Community News,” Wolleon wrote. “I was on vacation last month and did not hear of his passing. As a 24-year veteran of the Bayonne Police Department, I had the pleasure of meeting Anton as a rookie while walking the beat. Throughout the years, we always managed to bump into one another.”
He added, “If it wasn’t at the 38th Street Quick Chek, where I would often run into him while getting a cup of coffee, it was through his correspondence at the police desk mailbox. Anton would send me the Navy football schedule every year, religiously. He was indeed a gentleman and a pleasure to talk to. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.”
Preminger added to her remarks in the Jan. 6 report. “Anton was a bright man, he had an amazing talent for dates and times, and this reaction to him shows how important it is that people should not be tossed aside.”

A Bayonne Tech graduate in ’55

Another resident of Bayonne called to say he had graduated with Anton from the Bayonne Technical High School in 1955, and that Anton was active recently in setting up a 55th Anniversary Reunion to take place at West Point.
“I don’t know why he chose to hold it in West Point,” he said. “But I might have gone.”
Allen, a resident of Bayonne, who also did not wish to have his last name published, called Anton “a good friend.”
“He used to call to see how my mother was doing, and he knew when my mother passed away on July 14,” Allen said. “I wondered why he stopped calling me, then I learned he has passed away.”
Allen said Anton was often called “Sparky,” and he recalled that Anton loved giving people small gifts.
“He once gave me a guardian angel,” Allen said. “One Christmas, we went to his house on Avenue E and gave him a small gift, and he acted as if we had given him a million dollars.”

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group