An 88-year-old Oakland Gardens man was discovered dead in his car Monday morning by staff from the Bayside Senior Center who came to check on him, police said.
Charles Bovino, known as "Chick" to his friends and neighbors, was found slumped over the steering wheel of his blue sedan, parked with the engine running in front of the Bell Park Gardens apartments on 73rd Avenue, where he lived.
The medical examiner identified the cause of death as a heart attack.
Bovino's car was neatly parked in front of the apartment complex but had a large crack in the front windshield.
Lt. Raymond Spinella of the 111th Precinct said police found no sign of trauma on the man, but were trying to determine whether he had had a car accident before his death.
Bovino volunteered for several years at the Bayside Senior Center and usually arrived early in the morning, program manager Nancy McCall said.
"We didn't see him this morning and we were worried about him," said McCall. A driver and another staff member from the center went to his apartment complex, found him dead and called 911, she said.
"It's too bad. It's a shock," said neighbor Edith Hoffenberg, 72, who said Bovino lived alone and had walked with a cane since he suffered a back injury about a year ago.
"He was very friendly. He used to come to all the barbecues and picnics," said neighbor Gloria Vicario, 64.
McCall described Bovino as "one of the most giving people I've ever met," someone who volunteered in the kitchen, helping to prepare and serve food.
He also donated at least one pool table to the center, bought bagels for the center to use as a fund-raiser, and even took over when the kitchen manager left.
"Whenever you needed him, he would always help," said McCall.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community News Group
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