Surrounded by his four daughters, family and friends, 92-year-old Edward Jeneski of Riverhead passed quietly into heaven Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, at the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue. He was predeceased by his loving wife, Alice, Sept. 14, 2012. They were married for 64 years.
Born in Carbondale, Pa. on March 16, 1925, Ed’s family moved to Riverhead shortly after his birth. At age 17, during World War II, he convinced his mother to permit him to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. where he proudly served and participated in the occupation of Tinian, Marianas Islands with the Marine 18th Battalion.
In the early summer of 1945, Marine PFC Jeneski returned stateside to re-train for the possible invasion of the Japanese mainland. It was during that time that Ed’s love of cooking emerged when he received permission to repurpose the Officers Club’s dinner leftovers to cook meals for his fellow enlisted men. The soldiers affectionately referred to Ed’s tasty dinners as eating at the “Slop Shack”.
Following the war, Ed returned to Riverhead where he met and married Alice Raynor. Together they raised four daughters, first settling in a house that Ed transformed from a barn and then to a permanent family home in Riverhead. In the 1950s, Ed and Alice were known for their annual backyard barbecues where every summer neighbors and friends gathered to enjoy Ed’s specialty of grilled lobsters, cooked on the brick barbecue that he had built for his family.
In the late 1940s, after a short career as a salesman for Griswald Candy, Ed and his partner Henry Grabowski formed J & G Builders, originally building homes for the local Polish community and then branching out to other areas of Long Island, including the Hamptons. Ed always welcomed the opportunity to help his “girls” and either remodeled, repaired or built homes for every one of his daughters.
A near lifetime member of the Riverhead Independent Polish Club (Polish Hall), Ed spent time as the organization’s president, and was a long time member of the board of directors. In the mid-1960s, Ed utilized his extensive knowledge of construction to oversee Polish Hall’s expansion, adding a new kitchen and expanded freezer rooms. In addition, Ed remodeled and personally rebuilt the hall’s Tap Room Bar, as well as the accompanying area adjacent to the four bowling lanes.
According to one former member, “Ed Jeneski’s history is the Polish Hall’s History. It’s impossible to separate them. There’s not a square inch of the Polish Hall that hasn’t benefited from Ed Jeneski’s talents and care.”
After retiring from work as a carpenter and contractor, Ed took on yet another role at the Polish Hall; working there as a bartender. He became the well-known and loved innkeeper of the Tap Room. Still an avid cook and always happy to share with friends, Ed would often treat the Tap Room guests to his famous scalloped potatoes and Salisbury steak. For dessert – Ed’s famous stories about Riverhead and Polish Hall History.
A dedicated family man, Ed was proud of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved Polka music and had a passion for the beauty of Long Island and boating and fishing aboard the “Gooey Pop Two,” the site of many events with family and friends, cruising the Peconic Bay.
Ever willing to go out of his way for friends, Ed was always there when you needed him. The Marine motto – Semper Fi – “Always Faithful” was truly the way he lived his life.
Ed is survived by his sisters, Loretta Byerly, Anna Mae “Ann” Filice, and Katheryn Erwin; his daughters, Janice Pfeifer, Carol Gustafson, Alice Bender and Loretta Jeneski; his grandchildren, Jimmy Jeneski Fogarty, Jeanne Giustra, Jeffrey Hojenski, Jody Hojenski, Jason Hojenski, Paul Gustafson III, Amie Whitmore, Karin Surratt, Kiersten Baschnagel, Arend Bender, and Brennan Lewis-Degan; great-grandchildren, Jeanna Jarnich, Anthony Giustra, Nicholas Giustra, Victoria “Tori” Giustra, Jonathan Jeneski Fogarty, Kayla Hojenski, Christian Hojenski, Erin Hojenski, Paul Gustafson IV, Luke Gustafson, Kirk Whitmore, Acacia Whitmore, Denielle Whitmore, Nathan Surratt, Morgan Surratt, Amanda Baschnagel and Kylee Baschnagel.
The family will receive visitors Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. A funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead. Burial with military honors will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.
Donations to the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in memory of Edward W. Jeneski would be greatly appreciated. (https://www.eeh.org/ways-to-give/donate/?tab=Dedication)
This is a paid notice.