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That's what Charles Schulze said to his companion of 20 years, Helen Smith, a moment before he jumped into a churning ocean to save two boys, aged 9 and 12, in danger of drowning Saturday at Pompano Beach.
Schulze, a personal injury lawyer who lived mostly in the Washington, D.C., area, kept a vacation home in Pompano. The Washington Post published a short but moving portrait of Schulze in today's edition.
"Take my hat," he told Smith, removing his white tennis hat and dashing into the surf. Officials said the water at the time was extremely rough, and the stretch of beach was not protected by lifeguards.
Smith said Schulze, who was a good swimmer, saw one boy reach safety but realized that the other was being swept away and plunged after him.
The boys were vacationing here with their family from a town in western New York. Schulze's health began to fail shortly after he delivered the second boy to rescuers. He was 73. A gentleman and a hero to the end.