SK: Jean Marius Novi – WB4ENI

By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb, Staff Writer
Washington Post

Jean Marius Novi, 62, who worked as a translator and interpreter at the International Monetary Fund and was a ham radio operator who aided in rescue efforts during the 1982 Air Florida crash, died of sepsis June 19 at Georgetown University Hospital.

After Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge on Jan. 13, 1982, during a bitter snowstorm, Mr. Novi and other amateur radio operators provided a vital emergency communications link between the crash site and area hospitals. The crash, then considered the worst air disaster in the Washington area, claimed the lives of 74 Air Florida passengers and four motorists on the bridge as the plane plunged into the icy Potomac River. Five airline passengers survived.

Mr. Novi was cited by the City of Alexandria and by the Alexandria Amateur Radio Club for his assistance over four days. He engineered a phone patch and volunteered his services and equipment, Robert E. Huneycutt Jr., club president, wrote in 1982.

“Without your help, the effort put forth by the club would not have been as successful as it turned out,” Huneycutt told Mr. Novi.

A ham operator until his death, Mr. Novi operated under call number WB4ENI. He was a Fairfax resident and owned a home in Lancaster County, Va.

Mr. Novi, who was known as Marius by friends and family, was born in Rousset, France, and was educated in France, England, Switzerland, Italy and Mexico. He attended Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy, and trained at the school of interpreters at the University of Geneva in Switzerland from 1964 to 1968.

From 1968 to 1971, he worked as a staff translator, interpreter and head of the French section of the International Electrotechnical Commission in Geneva and held similar duties, as well as working as an editor, at the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa.

Mr. Novi came to the Washington area in 1971 and joined the IMF, where he was chief of documentation and reference in the Bureau of Language Services until 1980. He also did work for the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.

After leaving the IMF in 1980, Mr. Novi moved to Montreal, where he owned and was president of a translations firm for about 10 years. He returned to Fairfax in 1992.

Mr. Novi spoke English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. His assignments as an interpreter took him to conferences, boardrooms and governmental organizations worldwide. He dealt with a range of subjects, including finance and business, medicine and health, energy and engineering, and arts and literature.

He organized French interpreters for three Olympics and played a role in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, from 1996 through 2002.

His marriage to Marie-Claude Novi ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Marila Belcher of Fairfax, whom he married in 2000; two daughters from his first marriage, Florence VanInwegen of Richmond and Veronique Novi of Montreal; a stepson, John Michael Belcher of Washington; his father, Paul Novi of France; a sister; and three granddaughters.