Wife, mother of Pulitzer winners pens own book

MARTINS Ferry native Liberty Kovacs is the only person who was the wife and mother of two Pulitzer Prize winners in poetry, and her book, “Liberty’s Quest,” proves that she too knows how to write.

Kovacs’ honesty is a dominant factor in her writing as she doesn’t gloss over problems – and they were many – throughout her 80 years. Despite difficulties, she perseveres.

Her oldest son, Franz Wright, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, referred to her as “the most inspiring person I have ever known.”

He described her as the wife and mother “of two infamously, recklessly self-centered, and self-destructive writers … her life – as teacher; therapist, and writer – is an embodiment of self-sacrifice, triumph over adversity and the never-ending quest to lessen rather than contribute to the suffering of other human beings.”

Kovacs was born May 28, 1928, in Martins Ferry, and her parents were Greek immigrants. Her father named her Eleutheria (Liberty), and Kovacs wrote that she often wondered if he knew that she would make it a driving force in her life.

Growing up in the 1930s and ’40s, she not only didn’t have the benefits from women’s lib, but she also had to overcome the patriarchal Greek way of life.

She, however, wasn’t a docile female but one who had courage to work for what she wanted.

For a start on her road to obtain a desired education, Kovacs triumphed even though her hot-tempered father disowned her. (They reconciled later.)

Ruth Brant, who headed the school of nursing at Martins Ferry Hospital, made an unusual telephone call that resulted in Kovacs’ acceptance into the nursing program.

Brant is only one of the familiar names mentioned in the book. Individuals, neighborhoods and happenings in Martins Ferry all figure in this autobiography. The first part of her book focuses on her memories of Martins Ferry.

Kovacs’ love of learning is evident as she studied throughout her life. At the age of 54, she received her Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy and worked as a marriage and family therapist until her late 70s.

Her marriage to fellow Ferrian James Wright, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972, and later to Miklos Kovacs, who had been a Hungarian Freedom Fighter, both ended in divorce.

Infidelity was only one of the reasons for the failure of her marriages. In addition to difficulties in her marriages, she also faced various problems with her two older sons.

She strived to deal with various family members’ struggles with alcoholism, drugs and chaotic behavior. All the while, she was helping others through her work in the health field.

Not only was she herself helped by psychotherapy, but she found a sense of peace and inner stillness in whitewater river rafting.

Kovacs’ rafting trips began at the age of 54 and continued until she was 70. Telling of her final trip, she wrote that the Colorado River and Grand Canyon “let me taste the timelessness of eternity, and for a brief moment … lowered the veil of time and space and let me glimpse God’s face.”

This book about a woman, who reveals that her life journey “was focused on using the gifts God has given me in a purposeful and meaningful manner,” is available from Robert D. Reed Publishers, P.O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411 (telephone number, 541-347-9882). The publisher will send the book with shipping free to area residents for the retail price of the book, which is $29.95.