June 2, 2020

Where are they now? A Townie Retrospective – Jeff Tkacs, Class of ‘68

Jeff Tkacs "drumming" up nightly support for pandemic front-liners.

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The EP Reporter NewsMag occasionally looks back on graduates of East Providence High School in a feature called, “Where are they now?” This story checks up on the life and career of Townie Jeffrey Tkacs. Jeff graduated from EPHS in 1968 and then from the University of Rhode Island. He also received an MPA from Marist College. He then went on to a 30 year career in New York State government administration.

Those who follow East Providence High School athletics may recognize the name Tkacs. Jeff’s father was Victor Tkacs, EPHS Class of 1934 and a member of the EPHS Hall of Fame. The senior Tkacs was a popular teacher at EPHS for twenty-six (26) years. Victor Tkacs was a class advisor, guidance counselor, a city recreation and boys club supervisor and successful Townie head basketball coach. He also played ball under Frank Keany. “I have fond memories of those years watching Townie basketball with Dad as head coach. I especially remember the 1962 EP State Championship team and following them to play in the New England High School Basketball Tournament,” Jeff Tkacs said in a conversation with the Reporter. “My favorite players that year were Ernie Medeiros, Harry Mutter and Stan Traverse,” (Mutter and Traverse are both in the EPHS HOF).

Jeff Tkacs would also coach basketball in a brief tenure at EP. “For one year I coached the junior varsity team under then head coach Everett Aldrich. We went to the state finals and lost to LaSalle,” recalls Tkacs. Aldrich would later take a Townie team to defeat LaSalle for the state championship in 1976.

Tkacs career in New York State would see him lead government in varied areas such as therapeutic recreation, recreation and parks, and after 911, homeland safety and local emergency management. “This was interesting work and came with a lot of responsibility and critical department head decision making that I enjoyed for my thirty (30) years in government service,” Tkacs said.

Tkacs retired in 2010 and now lives with his wife, Mary Sue Tkacs, in Narragansett, RI. They have two sons and three grandchildren. The Tkacs love the ocean, boating, golf and travel when they’re not spending time with family. “We love being with the grandkids, boating on Point Judith Pond and getting to Florida for a month or two every year,” he said. Tkacs also enjoys his seasonal job mowing fairways at Point Judith Country Club and being a member of the Point Judith Yacht Club where he has served as a Vice-Commodore and other volunteer positions. Tkacs is also an avid URI basketball fan, attending all home games and some away when possible.

With the onset of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Tkacs have pretty much isolated at their Harbor Island, Narragansett home like most people. Jeff and Mary Sue wanted to show their support for workers on the front line of the crisis. “After seeing similar tributes across the country for these workers, I thought I would do the same here,” Tkacs said. So, in honor of health care workers Jeff Tkacs rallies his neighbors every night at 7 pm when he proudly “drums” on pots and buckets he has tied to a front yard tree. Neighbors come outside to the drum beat and together they do their part to show a sign of outward support and admiration. “Still rallying the team coach, the energy is catching on, thanks,” calls out a passerby.

Through all of this, the Tkacs walk the beach and go for small boat rides when possible and remember the Townie roots. “I really am proud to be a Townie,” Tkacs reminisces. “I’ll always think that growing up in EP, an “All American City,” is as good as it could have been before departing to Kingston and URI.”

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