Oscar S. Willenzik

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Oscar S. Willenzik
ProgressClub1948.jpg
Willenzik, center, at a Progress Club function in 1948
Born June 18, 1918
Pensacola, Florida
Died March 18, 2007
Pensacola, Florida
Occupation Restaurant supply entrepreneur
Religion Jewish
Spouse Ethel Willenzik
Linda Pell
Parents William and Helen Willenzik
Children Sally Schukar
Judy Cunningham
Jerry Willenzik
Susie Antweil

Oscar Samuel Willenzik (1918-2007) was a Pensacola businessman who owned Pensacola Restaurant Supply Company, or Penko, located in the Lewis Bear and Willko Buildings on Palafox Place at Main.

Early Life[edit]

Raised in Pensacola, Willenzik attended Tulane University and was valedictorian of his senior class, then studied law at the University of Florida. He served in the Navy during World War II. Returning to Pensacola, he and his father, William, launched the Pensacola Restaurant Supply Company on April 1, 1946, and quickly expanded their business from 1,600 square feet to 36,500 square feet.[1] Ownership expanded additionally to Oscar's brother, Norman, by 1952. Company employees included Willenzik's sister-in-law, Carla, who was his secretary among other jobs at the store, and wife, Ethel, who was the bookkeeper.

End of Penko and Death[edit]

Facing an economic downturn in the new century, Willenzik consolidated much of his business and let go about half of his employees, including several family members[1] by 2002. Sister-in-law Carla Willenzik also left the business at this time to eventually retire In October 2006, the City of Pensacola's Code Enforcement Board cited the Willenziks for code violations on their two properties. Oscar wrote to the Pensacola News Journal in response to the code citation:

   
Oscar S. Willenzik
I am still operating Oscar's Penko, Inc. as successor to Pensacola Restaurant Supply, at times unprofitably, primarily to avoid these buildings becoming vacant and being victims of vandalism and decay. Hurricane Ivan came and left its destruction, accompanied by a myriad of large problems never before experienced in our area during my lifetime. … We have already spent approximately $1,262,000 on repairs, and are in the process of entering into new written contacts, estimated to be in excess of $400,000, to complete this project. … Even Ivan, the most catastrophic hurricane to ever hit our area, and Father Time of 88 years can never take away the pride and love I have for these two buildings. It has been two years of frustration, perseverance and hard work. I hope there will be gratification in the end.[2]
   
Oscar S. Willenzik

A few months later, on March 18, 2007, Willenzik passed away at age 88 in Pensacola, signaling the end of Oscar's Penko, once a thriving business in the form of Pensacola Restaurant Supply.

Willenzik was past president of B'nai Israel Synagogue and a member of B'nai B'rith, the Pensacola Federated Jewish Charities, the Tiger Bay Club, the Pensacola Historical Society and the Downtown Improvement Board.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Historic buildings for sale." Pensacola News Journal, May 11, 2003.
  2. "Building repair a priority downtown." Pensacola News Journal, October 19, 2006.