Homeless Jew viciously murdered in Manhattan homeless shelter remembered as brilliant, generous
An ex-teacher whose fight with mental illness landed him in a Manhattan homeless shelter where he was fiendishly murdered was remembered Sunday as a brilliant man with a generous heart.
Days after Deven Black, 62, was nearly beheaded in a grisly shelter slaying, family and friends recalled the life of a man betrayed by a brain once envied by his colleagues.
“When I say that my father was smart, I’m referring to his wisdom and intelligence, but also the staggering, broad knowledge that filled his brain,” said Jonas Black, his only son. “My father was a curious man who never stopped learning.”
Jonas told more than 200 mourners at Congregation Sons of Israel in Nyack that his family is donating his father’s brain for mental health research.
“Deven was a brilliant, courageous, kind and humble man; now, his life is over,” Jonas Black said. “Now, it is our responsibility to take that knowledge and use it to help. There is a stigma attached to mental illness, a shame and fear that prevents those who are sick from getting the help they need.”
Black was nearly decapitated in the Thursday night attack inside the privately run Boulevard Homeless Shelter in East Harlem. It was only Black’s third night at the shelter.
Cops were still hunting for his shelter roommate, Anthony White, 21, who sources said stayed in the room with the body after the killing.
Just two years ago, Deven Black was still married to, Jill Rovitzsky Black, his wife of three decades and holding down his job of 10 years as a respected teacher and librarian in the Bronx.
Black, originally from the Upper West Side, held jobs as a bartender, restaurant critic and advertising copywriter — earned a master’s degree in education at Fordham University and a master’s in library science at Queens College.
Black was apparently afflicted with behavioral variant fronto-temporal degeneration, a rare form of the brain disease, according to Rovitzky Black.
There is no cure for the progressive form of dementia, and Black’s wife believes the personality-altering ailment contributed to his downfall.
Jonas also recalled that his father was passionate about music.
“You may not have been aware of his love for gangsta’ rap,” Jonas said to laughter from the crowd.
“One time we were listening to the radio in the car when an old N.W.A. song came on. You can imagine my surprise when he turned up the volume, grinned ear-to-ear and rapped along to every single word.”