A Gift to Celebrate Life, Exploration and the Mother-Daughter Bond

It’s 10:30 a.m. in Sydney, Australia, as Ann Covitz ’62 answers the phone and reflects on her life from the other side of the world. Hers is a story that deserves to be told, and one no parent ever wants to experience. It’s about a final act of love to forever connect a mother and daughter, and a gift intended to bring light from darkness.

two people smile with their arms around each other's shoulders
Ann Covitz, right, with her daughter Jill

A Queens, New York, native, she always wanted to be a teacher, and friendly influences and a strong School of Education led her to Syracuse University. “My best friend Susan wanted to go to Syracuse, and it got to be a whole clique of people in the neighborhood who went,” she recalls. “It was too big a school for me, really. But I loved the area all around campus.”

One weekend she met David Covitz, a Cornell University student in the same fraternity as her brother. After Ann graduated from Syracuse, the couple married and settled near Cornell. They later moved to Long Island, where their daughter, Jill, was born. But Ann ran the household as David was frequently attending to his veterinary practice, and the marriage fell apart when Jill was 2 years old. Ann adapted as best she could, focusing on her teaching career and raising her little girl.

For 35 years Ann split her time between teaching and family therapy. She always loved children and became a Montessori School directress. She also organized parenting classes. Ann applied the lessons she learned as a single parent to help build up other families and guide schoolchildren in the same way she nurtured her daughter.

“She was such a happy kid—the girl whose perpetual, dimpled smile would light up the room,” Ann recalls. “I remember her receiving the ‘Friendliest Camper Award’ as a young child. They used to call her ‘bubbly’; she was very outgoing and made friends everywhere she went.”

A Love of Travel

two people stand together at a college graduation. the person on the right has a graduation cap and gown on
Ann and Jill Covitz at Commencement

Jill Covitz ’92 loved music throughout her childhood, especially bands. And while Ann admits Syracuse wasn’t the ideal choice for her, it was perfect for Jill, who joined Alpha Chi Omega sorority and majored in electronic media production at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She loved the entertainment aspect of the music industry and aspired to work in events production.

Of all her Syracuse experiences, a semester abroad set the tone for the rest of Jill’s life. “Jill studied abroad in London and traveled all over Europe. She loved being in a group and exploring, especially being an only child,” Ann says. “She always had the travel bug, but Syracuse was the place that gave her the inspiration to live internationally.”

Jill graduated cum laude and spent over a decade in New York City, working for Columbia Records and Sony Music Entertainment. But she still wished to live in another part of the world and was drawn to Australia for its people and its beauty.

“Australians are very happy people—boundless. They have a light about them similar to Jill’s personality, and she loved the camaraderie,” Ann recalls. “She said, ‘Mom, one day I want to go to Australia. It’s just the place I want to be.’”