Thomas Smiley, 65, of Granite Bay, California, was killed on Saturday, according to the Maui Police Department. He had been swimming about 60 yards from the shore, according to Maui Fire and Public Safety.
Smiley, an optometrist who retired last year, is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren, his wife, Gale Smiley, told ABC News on Tuesday.
The two were high school sweethearts and married for 42 years, she said.
They had been vacationing in Hawaii for 14 years, she said. On Saturday "he just went out for a quick swim."
I must have probably hollered down in horror.
"I walked out and people were pointing out in the water in this area where there's usually a lot of turtles there, there's a lot of snorkeling going on," she said. "I looked out and I thought, well, he was an amazing swimmer, he was a swimmer in school, snorkeler, water skier. He's been in water sports his whole life. I thought, that can't be him. So I watched for awhile, and the police rescue unit wave runner started over in our area."
"When they pulled him up on the shore I saw the swimsuit he was wearing and recognized that was him," Gale Smiley said. "I must have probably hollered down in horror and got down there and they had him in the ambulance...I saw his face...I was pretty much in shock."
Gale Smiley said officials later told her they'd been monitoring a tiger shark in that area. However, she hadn't seen any signs outside her condo, and said her husband wouldn't have gone in the water if there were shark warnings posted.
"I'm not blaming anybody," she said. "I think there may have been a different outcome if it had been posted that they knew it [the shark] was there."
Officials with Maui Police and the Department of Land and Natural Resources could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gale Smiley called her husband an "incredible man" who "should not have been taken."
The family is taking it really hard because they absolutely adored him. And he lived for his family.
"His spirit and his sense of adventure always pushed him to try new things. His attitude toward life was never be afraid of trying new things or putting yourself out there," she said. "And that's what he taught me."
Days after the tragedy, Smiley said she's overwhelmed by the "tremendous outpouring" of support from his friends. She said her "humble" husband "would be shocked at the people's lives that he has touched."
"Everyone said that he was absolutely the best man that they had ever met," she said. "He was rock solid for everyone, they could count on him for anything."
"He was highly intelligent, the most wonderful family man...loved his kids, loved his grandchildren," she said. "The family is taking it really hard because they absolutely adored him. And he lived for his family."