Veterans help Tencick celebrate 90th

John Tencick is seated in front. In back are American Legion members from Dickey Springer Post 113, Alamosa, Eric Gile, Jack Rudder, Frank “Boogie” Romero, Jr. and Frank “Boogie” Romero./Courtesy photo

ALAMOSA — “It’s been a good ride.”

John Tencick reflected on his 90 years as he sat amongst friends and family on Sunday at Nino’s. 

“I can’t believe people came from all over – Anchorage, Seattle, Wyoming – just to see me!”

John Joe Tencick was born on February 28, 1929 in Tilden Illinois to parents Antonio and Antonia, who were both born in Croatia. Antonio was a coal miner and Antonia was a homemaker.

When John was in the sixth grade, the family moved to Edwardsville, Illinois where they lived until 1942 when Antonio passed due to black lung disease.

After the death of Antonio, times were especially difficult because of the depression. Brother Tony, who lived in New York City, invited the family to come and stay with him. John, his mother, and his sister Lena made the long and difficult train journey eastward. John remembers the day they finally arrived in NYC at Grand Central Station—a huge and busy place, almost beyond comprehension for its size. 

“I remember getting around the city by trolley – the stop was just a few blocks from Tony’s flat at 75 Fort Washington Street. We used to get tamales for 5¢ each.”

He attended George Washington High School in Manhattan and liked math and science. 

John competed in AAU sponsored track meets running sprints and low hurdles, winning many medals.

He attended college at North Carolina State in Raleigh where he received a bachelor’s in education in 1951. He was on the NC State football team “the Wolfpack” and played in the offensive backfield as a blocking back, lettering all four years. His jersey numbers were 16 (first two years) and 26 (last two years).

While at NC State, he enrolled in Army ROTC and was in the program four years. On the day of graduation, the cadets participated in a commissioning ceremony and John received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army, and pinned on his gold bars.

His Army career began in the Quartermaster Corps, followed by an assignment to Fort Bliss, Texas for training in artillery. He eventually shipped out to Korea where he was assigned to the 50th Antiaircraft Battalion in Suwon, as an Intelligence Officer.

“We would go to Japan for R&R every now and then. I had never tasted sukiyaki before that.” 

When the Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, John was in Korea and later made the trip home on a troop ship, traveling under the Golden Gate Bridge upon entry to San Francisco.

John’s next assignment was Camp Hale, near Leadville, where the Army conducted winter warfare training. He was a 1st Lieutenant and served as the Club Officer. From there John was honorably discharged.

He headed to Denver and lived for a while with his brother George, bought his first car – a 1953 Plymouth – fell in love and got married. 

John was always self-employed including operating a tax business, owning The 88¢ Store in downtown Denver and eventually receiving a distributorship with Texaco.

In 1963, John moved his family to Laramie, Wyoming where he purchased the Texaco and Firestone distributorships.  He was self-employed for 24 years with this business building many service stations and the first “modern day” truck stop off I-80.  In 1987 he became a real estate broker, specializing in land development, warehousing, office building and raw land sales.

“I was the first CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) in the state of Wyoming. I really loved developing projects and putting deals together.”

He moved to Ft. Collins in 1990 and became semi-retired, still dabbling in real estate. In 1999 he moved on to Montrose and stayed active in community activities including starting a Mac Users club, serving on the Botanical Society board of directors, active Rotary member, Senior Center volunteer, and acted as chair of his home owners association.

John moved to Alamosa in 2016 and lives at Evergreen Nursing Home.  He has been blessed with four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

He enjoys opera, fishing, watching the Rockies and Nuggets, spending time with family, reading and current events.

“I feel blessed to have made it to 90 – but longevity runs in my genes. My mother lived in NYC until she was 104.”