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JFK Jr. remembered as a regular New Yorker

Kennedy liked to bike or make his way through the streets of New York on in-line skates  
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CNN's Maria Hinojosa looks at Kennedy's life in New York and talks to some of the people who knew him there
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Remembering John F. Kennedy Jr.   • Profile
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July 22, 1999
Web posted at: 11:20 p.m. EDT (0320 GMT)

In this story:

'A very passionate New Yorker'


From CNN Correspondent Maria Hinojosa

NEW YORK -- Although the Kennedy dynasty's roots are deep in Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy Jr. himself was the quintessential New Yorker.

After her husband's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy moved her family to Manhattan, where she attempted to raise John and his sister as normally as possible.

Kennedy grew up dodging the paparazzi on his bike rather than in a limousine. He often hung out with friends on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"We used to hang out there for hours outside at night," recalls boyhood friend Jason Beghe. He said John and his pals would then go over to Central Park to entertain themselves.

"Just regular stuff," he said. "Some good, some naughty."

Of course, there always was the watchful eye of Kennedy's Secret Service detail to ensure the boys didn't get into too much trouble.

"They respected our desire to be independent and if we did something naughty like puff on a cigarette ... they wouldn't rat on us," said Beghe.

'A very passionate New Yorker'

Kennedy returned to New York after college at Brown University, graduating from New York University Law School in 1989.

He was hired by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau as a prosecutor, although it took him three attempts to pass the bar exam.

As was the case with much in his life, his career endeavors were followed closely by the media.

"God willing ... I'll pass it the next time, or I'll pass it when I'm 95," Kennedy once quipped to reporters.

Kennedy attained a 6-0 record prosecuting white-collar fraud and street crime cases before he resigned in 1995. His office mates remembered him as regular guy.

"My images of John are with his shirt sleeves rolled up, his tie askew and shirt tail out the back of his pants," said attorney Owen Carraghan.

Regular except for the fact that reporters loved to stake out his office. To his co-workers, John was one of them, a New Yorker.

"He was a very passionate New Yorker," said Rose Anna de Maria, his former boss. "John would say that most cities are a noun, but New York is a verb."

John campaigned for former Democratic Mayor David Dinkins, displaying a magnetic political persona similar to his father's.

"I will always see him ... walking the streets of Broadway near Zabar's with me campaigning," remembered Dinkins. "I can't -- I don't want to -- put that out of my mind."

Like most New Yorkers, Kennedy also enjoyed his moments of solitude, even though pictures of him exercising or relaxing would often turn up in the tabloids the next day.

There was also that quiet New Yorker generosity. Gerard Grillo received a fellowship from Kennedy to work with disabled children.

"It's nice that somebody notices us and that appreciation is given to people that do this kind of work," he said. "In an era when everything is money and glamour, something as humane as this (fellowship) is often overlooked."

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