by andrew conrad
Mr. Bavetta died of an extended illness Oct. 9 in his home. He was 81.
In recent years, Mr. Bavetta had to spend most of his time indoors, even though he was happiest outdoors.
Although Columbia was conveniently located near Mr. Bavetta's workplace at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, the town had changed from the rural community of fields and trees that the Bavettas favored. It was becoming more urbanized.
"It was a problem just getting out of the driveway with so many cars whizzing by," Heidi Bavetta said.
Speeding cars and traffic signals did not appeal to Mr. Bavetta, who was a nature lover at heart. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping with his family. However, he did have a little secret about his frequent hunting trips that he never told anyone, except his wife: He never shot a deer.
"He just couldn't bear it," she said. Mr. Bavetta would aim away from the creatures whenever he shot. But for anyone who would doubt his skill, Mr. Bavetta did not have qualms about shooting birds, and he kept his wife busy preparing and cooking fowl that he brought home.
Mr. Bavetta's squeamishness also kept him from pursuing his original career choice as a doctor; the sight of blood made him sick. But the career path that he took proved fruitful.
Mr. Bavetta earned a master's degree in linguistics from New York University and then became an officer in the U.S. Navy, with hopes of serving in World War II. He was placed in an accelerated program for Naval Intelligence, but graduated just before the war ended. However, Mr. Bavetta eventually saw plenty of action in his job as a translator for the National Security Agency.
Able to read and write seven languages _ he was fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish _ Mr. Bavetta was well equipped for the position. As a result, he was privy to much top-secret information.
According to his children, Christina and Angelo Bavetta, Mr. Bavetta was stationed aboard a submarine during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and read Fidel Castro's first speech before he even delivered it publicly.
The Bavetta children also recall how the FBI hired their father, nine years retired, to help investigate a Sicilian drug ring. The bureau initially went to the NSA to request a translator who knew Italian, and was referred to Mr. Bavetta, who accepted the job. He monitored a wiretap for three months before cracking the drug ring's code, said his daughter, Christina.
All along, Mr. Bavetta made sure the family was safe, which is why he didn't tell them about the case until he was sure they were protected from possible retaliation by the drug ring.
He was "totally dedicated to me and the kids," his wife said.
That devotion included spending much time together. For six consecutive years in the 1960s, the Bavetta family would load up their blue Cadillac station wagon with gear the day after school ended and head to Assateague Island, where they would camp all summer.
Ironically, Mr. Bavetta was sensitive to the sun, and his wife laughed as she recalled him sitting on the beach in white cotton gloves and a hunting hat.
After suffering a heart attack in 1976, Mr. Bavetta had to retire early. But that gave him time to pursue things he had always wanted to, such as teaching himself medicine by reading lots of medical books. He also used his free time to take courses, like opera and drawing, at Carroll County and Howard community colleges.
Lately, Mr. Bavetta's activity was more restricted, but he still kept occupied.
"His favorite show was ['Who Wants to be a] Millionaire,' " said his wife. "He would watch it [come] hell or high water."
Besides his wife, Heidi M., Mr. Bavetta is survived by his son, Angelo R. Bavetta of Westminster; daughters Erika H. Maier of Westminster and Christina M. Bavetta of Washington, D.C.; and two granddaughters.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Angelo and Sebastiana Bavetta; daughter Anna Bavetta; and a sister, Giacomina Bavetta.
Services were held Oct. 13 at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster, and burial at Providence Cemetery in Gamber followed. Arrangements were made by Myers Funeral Home.
Memorial donations may be made to Carroll Hospice, 95 Carroll St., Westminster, MD 21157.