Pearl Kovesdy was a survivor.
She narrowly avoided being aboard Delta Air Lines Flight 191 that crashed in Dallas in 1985 after she canceled her flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a bridge tournament in Las Vegas via Dallas. The crash killed 137 people.
Kovesdy had two major spinal surgeries for stenosis and survived the flu in her 90s. She also lived in Florida through multiple hurricanes, including Hurricane Wilma, which left her without electricity for weeks.
“She didn’t make it through this last one, but she lived through some monumental events,” said her son, Edward Kovesdy, 70.
Kovesdy, 102, died April 22 from complications of the coronavirus, her family said.
Kovesdy, whose maiden name was Schlifka, was born Dec. 30, 1917, in New York City. She married George Kovesdy in 1945 after the pair met while living on the same street.
After raising Edward and their older son Allen in Westbury, the couple retired to Delray Beach, Florida, in the 1970s. Kovesdy was widowed in 1979 but lived a vibrant life in Florida, traveling and playing bridge with friends for more than 30 years before moving back to Westbury in 2015.
She was renowned for her dinner parties, a tradition that her children and grandchildren have now carried on. Even when Kovesdy wasn’t entertaining guests, she would regularly make three-course meals for the family after working her longtime bookkeeping job all day. Her special recipes included stuffed veal, cheese pie, carrot souffle and split pea soup made with smoked tongue stock.
An avid bridge player, Kovesdy traveled the country to play in tournaments, first with her husband and later, her bridge club. Bookkeeping math skills made her a better bridge player, eventually earning her Life Master status, Edward Kovesdy said.
Pearl Kovesdy loved to travel, taking cruises with friends and once accompanying her husband on a hunting expedition in India. When not playing bridge or traveling, she enjoyed knitting and crocheting, with her sons still cherishing many a sweater and afghan carrying the label “Made by Mom.”
Edward Kovesdy said his mother was a "good soul" and a bit of a gossip.
Kovesdy was also curious, always asking questions and listening carefully.
“She didn’t spread rumors," Edward Kovesdy said, "but she just wanted to know everything.”
She was also a proud grandmother, babysitting her two grandsons when they were children and later bragging to friends in Florida about their bar mitzvahs and other accomplishments.
Along with her two sons, she is survived by grandsons Geoffrey and Alex Kovesdy.
The family held a small graveside service April 26 on Zoom and plans to have a traditional unveiling — the traditional Jewish ceremony of placing the headstone at the grave site — at a later date.
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