Obit: Simek, Joseph Sr. (1926 - 2013)

Contact: Robert Lipprandt

Surnames: Bishop, Brigman, Caruso, Cummings, Hedlicka, LaBarge, Meulemans, Noziska, Olmstead, Peot, Simek, Stefancin, Willger

----Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) 01/10/2013

Simek, Joseph "Pep" Sr. (13 NOV 1926 - 18 FEB 2013)

Joseph "Pep" Simek Sr., one of the founding partners of Tombstone Pizza in Medford, died Monday of natural causes at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee. He was 86.

Simek and his late wife, Frances, moved to Medford from Chicago in 1960. By 1962 they were running the Tombstone Tavern - right next to a cemetery - with Simek's brother, Ronald.

The brothers both had families to support and came up with the pizza-making idea to bring in more money. They worked out of the bar's 6-by-6-foot kitchen.

The pizzas were fine, but they got better after Pep Simek broke his leg and, unable to tend bar, had time to fiddle with the recipe. He called the owner of a favorite Chicago pizza place, who told him the secret was in the spices.

The resulting pizzas were a hit, and within three years Tombstone Pizza was available in the Medford area, selling 2,000 pizzas a day and known for the tagline, "What do you want on your Tombstone?"

The company was sold to Kraft in 1986, and later to Nestlé, but Simek opened another place in Medford, Pep's Pizza, and had numerous other business interests after the sale. He owned the Embassy Suites/Regency Suites Hotel of Green Bay, Paradise Shores Hotel and Resort in Lake Holcombe, Captain Morgan's Retreat in Belize and Enerquip of Medford.

And the influence of his family remained in Medford for years to come.

With her husband's encouragement, Frances Simek became a major donor for civic projects, settling a discussion about a new library by donating $1 million to have it built.

"One night out of the clear blue sky she called the mayor and told him that argument about the library was over," Pep Simek once recalled. She was building it.

The Simeks also were major donors to Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Medford - putting up $1 million for a school project, as well as $900,000 for the Simek Recreation Center near the high school, a new fire station and other projects.

For his part, Simek played down his role.

"I don't want to take credit for it," he said of a donation for a new fire station. "It was my wife's idea and suggestion."

Simek is survived by his sons Joseph Jr. and Richard, a daughter, Lauren, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, sisters Gloria Olmstead and Vlasta Cummings, and brothers Ronald, Bill and Dan.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Medford, with a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. Visitation will be from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the church, with a funeral Mass at 11 a.m.

Memorials to the Simek Recreation Center in Medford or the American Heart Association are appreciated.


----Source: The Star News (Medford, WI) 02/21/2013

Joseph "Pep" L. Simek, 86, of Medford, died on Monday, Feb. 18 at St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, where he had been a patient the past 14 days.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Medford, with Father Gerard Willger, Father Dennis Meulemans and Deacon Joseph Stefancin officiating, and full military honors performed by the Medford and Westboro Area Military Honors Team. Interment will be at Mount Olive Cemetery in Westboro. Pallbearers are Quaid, Seth and Landin Simek, Ernie Olmstead, Blaze Brigman, Joe Peot and Tom LaBarge.

Visitation will be held at the church on Friday, Feb. 22 from 4 to 7 p.m., with a 7 p.m. prayer service, and on Saturday from 9 to 10:45 a.m.

Joseph Simek was born on November 13, 1926 in Ogema to the late Josef and Vlasta (Hedlicka) Simek. He was a 1944 graduate of Westboro High School. He served in the United States Army from 1944 to 1946 while being stationed in Trieste, Italy.

On August 29, 1947 in Chicago, Ill., he married Frances "Fran" L. Bishop, who preceded him in death on November 1, 2010. After the service, he worked at Steel Setter, was a Fuller Brushman salesman, a musical instrument salesman and also worked on the shipping/receiving dock at Red Ball Trucking Company, all in Chicago, until moving to the Medford area in July 1960. Pep then was co-owner and bartender at Tombstone Tap and in July 1962, he became one of the four founding members of Tombstone Pizza, where he served as Chairman of the Board and CEO until the business was sold in 1986. He then established and currently owns Pep's Pizza in Medford. He is also the previous owner of Embassy Suites/Regency Suites Hotel of Green Bay, Paradise Shores Hotel and Resort in Lake Holcombe, Captain Morgan's Retreat in Belize, and Enerquip of Medford. They also had numerous businesses in several states.

The first ever reality series was filmed at Captain Morgan's "Temptation Island" in 1999. Pep and Fran began their Philanthropic Services with donations to the Simek Recreation Center, Medford Fire Department, Medford Public Library, Holy Rosary School, Youth Sports Activities, and helped numerous, numerous individuals in the community. They sponsored the Boy Scouts, bowling teams, baseball teams, curling teams and other groups in the Medford area.

Pep was an avid hunter, fisherman and traveler. He enjoyed attending Packers games and boating. He was a member of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Premeau-Schauss VFW Post No. 7817 of Westboro and Landau-Jensen American Legion Post No. 147 of Medford. In 2012, Pep was inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame.

Survivors include three children, Joseph Jr. (Donna) of San Diego, Calif., Lauren (fiancé Dennis Caruso) Simek of Jim Falls and Richard (Ann) of Tucson, Ariz.; two sisters, Gloria Olmstead of Medford and Vlasta Cummings of Delta Junction, Alaska; three brothers, Ronald Simek of Genoa, Nev., Bill (Mary Ann) Noziska of Casper, Wyo., and Dan (Judy) Noziska of Juneau, Alaska; four grandchildren, Shannon Simek of San Diego, Quaid (Jenny) Simek of Tucson, Seth (Nicole) Simek of Los Angeles, Calif., and Landin (Tina) Simek of Dripping Springs, Texas; six great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews; and other relatives and many, many friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in Pep's name to the Simek Recreation Center or the American Heart Association.

Hemer Funeral Homes of Medford and Rib Lake assisted the family with arrangements.

Online condolences may be made at



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