By Ron Hayes
BOYNTON BEACH — When I go, Eva Takacs often told her daughter and everyone else, I want to go with my swimsuit on, at the beach, in the water, on a lovely day.
On the morning of Dec. 31, her final wish was granted. She was 92.
“The beach was pretty much her life toward the end,” said her daughter, Patricia Takacs. “Go to the beach and come home and sleep, and go to the beach.”
For more than a dozen regulars who frequent the sand in front of Boynton Beach’s Oceanfront Park — the swimmers, the walkers, the lifeguards — Takacs seemed as much a part of that beach as the sand, surf and sky.
Jay and Nadine Magee saw her almost daily.
“I walk five miles on the beach every day,” Nadine Magee said, “and she was always positive, always a big huge smile on her face. I always told her I wanted to grow up and be just like her — and I’m 64.”
Eva Carrie Corrican Takacs was born on April 25, 1929, near Mount Vernon, New York.
A 1950 graduate of SUNY at New Paltz, where she was valedictorian, she went on to earn a master’s degree from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. She was an elementary school teacher in Westchester County for 35 years, a wife to her husband, Albert, mother to Patricia, and always a swimmer.
In New York, she swam and took up windsurfing at the New Rochelle Swimming & Rowing Club, and when her parents retired to Boynton Beach more than 60 years ago, she discovered the ocean here.
In 1985, she retired from teaching, moved to Boynton Beach to care for her parents, and made the beach her daily destination for swimming and windsurfing.
In later years, she’d drive her little blue Toyota from Leisureville to Oceanfront Park clad in her swimsuit and Minnetonka moccasins.
“She must have had 30 pairs of those Minnetonka moccasins,” Nadine Magee recalled with a laugh. “I never saw her wear the same ones twice.”
With her smile so big, friends followed. They didn’t always know last names, but they came to know each other because they all knew Eva Takacs.
Tatyana Fishman shared a love of the ocean with Takacs.
“We met in the water,” Fishman said. “She was smart, extremely smart, and compared to her, we were children in our 50s and 60s. I admired her.”
As she aged, and her time in the water was limited to calm waves, Fishman and others helped her in and out of the surf.
“We didn’t know everybody’s last names,” explained George Stampoulos. “Everybody’s last name was Beach, but Eva was one of the crew. I used to help her in and out of the water. She’d say how long she wanted to stay, and I’d get her. She was a sweetheart.”
On her 90th birthday in 2019, the crew brought a cake to the beach, and a year later, she refused to let the coronavirus pandemic spoil her swimming time.
“I’m hanging in,” she told The Coastal Star that December. “I had no problem with the pandemic except when the ocean was closed. Horrible. I survived with the help of my friends.”
On the last day of 2021 and Takacs’s last morning at the beach, Stampoulos helped her into the surf, then continued on his walk.
“When I came back, I couldn’t see her in the water,” he recalled, “so I started to look and saw the lifeguards giving her CPR.”
The Boynton Beach lifeguards knew Takacs well. Every year, she’d bring a large box of Publix Christmas cookies to their tower.
Lifeguard Tom Mahady declined to discuss the guards’ lifesaving efforts, but was happy to speak of Takacs.
“She was a breath of fresh air,” Mahady said. “A great person. Joyful. It’s been pretty traumatic to our staff because everyone loved her and we miss her. She was awesome.” Apart from her daughter, Mrs. Takacs had no survivors, but on Jan. 12, about 15 of her crew from the beach gathered in the Boynton Beach Memorial Park & Mausoleum on Woolbright Road to see their friend, who loved the water, laid to rest in the earth beside her late husband, Albert, who died in 2005.
Jay and Nadine Magee were there, Tatyana Fishman and George Stampoulos, and the ones they knew only by first names, Joe and Kimberly, Chris and Mike and Sue. They knew each other because they knew Eva.
“She was vibrant and caring,” her daughter said. “Inquisitive, strong-willed. Everybody gets exhausted at the end, but for most of her life it was go, go, go. And she died with her swimsuit on.”