Owner Joseph Tenyak makes final Dairy Queen trip


Dairy Queen’s drive-thru was packed, and for a much different reason than you’d expect.

The line was actually a procession, a send-off of sorts from the Dairy Queen staff to their late employer Joseph Tenyak. Tenyak, or “Mr. T”, as he was lovingly called by family and staff, died Oct. 6. 

He became interested in the food service industry after working in a commissary while in the Navy, which ultimately led to his over 50-year involvement with Dairy Queen. He and his wife, Mary Tenyak, started managing their first location together in 1961, back when it was just a seasonal soft serve stand. Together with their children Sherrie and David, they turned that seasonal stand into a year-round “Grill and Chill” location that has become a favorite place for high schoolers and families alike. Even after his retirement in 1992, Mr. Tenyak played an active role in the business. “He was involved basically all the way until now,” recalled General Manager Vicky Ikey.

The procession 

The idea to have the procession came from his son, David, who took over the business after his father’s retirement. He felt it would be a fitting goodbye, and something that his father, who always put the business first, would have liked. “My dad would always ask me, ‘David, how did we do yesterday?,’” said David. Given his love of the business, he felt the Oct. 10 procession was fitting. The staff stood behind the idea as well, and at 9 a.m. all the employees, old and new, stood outside to say goodbye to Tenyak. Many of the employees worked with him before his retirement, and the goodbye was not an easy one. Carla Gerbig, who was hired by Tenyak 34 years ago, knew him well. “He and his wife were both hard workers,” she said, “and they were both a pleasure to work for.”

He is now resting in the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, and will be missed by friends and family as well as the community. The restaurant remains open under the ownership of David.

Sophia Senderak

Herald Staff Writer


  1. Gary Novak on October 18, 2019 at 8:57 am

    RIP uncle Joe
    My best to aunt Mary, David and Sharrie.
    I am sure you and my dad will enjoy an vanilla cone.

  2. Dee Bell on October 18, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Mr T was my first boss at age 18 he hired me! What a wonderful man he was. Rip Joe you gave all of the people who knew you a wonderful example of hard work and caring for your community! God Bless All of the family at this difficult time.

    Dee Bell

  3. Karin Svenson Snyder on October 17, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Goodbye and rest peacefully, my first ever boss. After I moved on you became a friend and I wish I could have told you one more time what a positive influence you were in my young life. Love to you, Mary and David ❤️
    Karin (Olga)

  4. Eva Jane Burkhart(Novak) on October 17, 2019 at 9:53 am

    We took the girl there every time we go to come to town for a cone when you were across the street RIP 🙏🙏🙏

  5. Anonymous on October 17, 2019 at 8:02 am


  6. Kristine Novak on October 17, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Sorry for your family’s loss .Joe was a good man sending prayers for the family

  7. Gloria Vanke on October 16, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    Our Thoughts & Prayers are with the Tenyak Family.

    Dennis & Gloria Vanke

  8. Becky Turner on October 16, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    The Tenyaks are a great family. So sorry for their loss.

  9. Joan Beach on October 16, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    My sympathy goes out to their family and friends. I went to school with their son.

  10. Paula Kallio on October 16, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Joe will be missed. He and Mary are one of the old family businesses that made Barberton the Magic City. A sad loss for Barberton. No question David is the same quality of hard working and caring as his parents.

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