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Tuesday February 21, 2017
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Kiki Markovits

 

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She met Andy Markovits (who grew up in Romania and Austria) when she was sixteen and he was eighteen. He'd come to visit his father in Vienna during a break from his studies at Columbia University. "It was puppy love," she says, recalling that their families vacationed together in Venice. But the teens went their separate ways. She married briefly in her twenties, and Andy stayed a bachelor. Then, cleaning out her mother's apartment after her death, she found an old letter from Andy. A "persistent" girlfriend convinced her to contact him.

He was teaching at Boston University and Harvard, and the two met in Cambridge for a long weekend. "I thought 'What do I have to lose?'," Andy says, "and it turned out she was even more attractive than in 1968." Thus began a long courtship that saw each crisscross the Atlantic dozens of times. As a professor of comparative politics and German studies, Andy traveled to Europe frequently--but when a border agent questioned Kiki's numerous visits to the United States, the two decided to tie the knot.

They are opposites in appearance--with his untamed longish white hair and too-short pants, Andy says he's decidedly "not elegant." "Being schlumpy" is part of his professorial code, he explains, "a legacy of the 1960s." But he praises his wife's "great combination of elegance and spunk." Kiki says, smiling, that she initially tried to make over Andy but gave up. "It's not for him," she says.

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