Co-founder of Tombstone Pizza dies at 86


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Co-founder of Tombstone Pizza dies at 86
By Jan Uebelherr
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Posted: 02/20/2013 12:01:00 AM CST
Updated: 02/20/2013 07:13:16 PM CST

Joseph "Pep" Simek Sr., one of the founding partners of Tombstone Pizza in Medford, Wis., died Monday of natural causes at 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 Nestle, 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, Pep downplayed 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 held 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 held from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the church, with a funeral Mass at 11 a.m.


" Whadd'ya want on your Tombstone ? "

I'm old


Wackbag Staff
I like tombstone the same way i like Ellios. its one of thos things from your childhood that you know isnt really good eats but its nostalgic so you really like it

Sinn Fein

Infidel and White Interloper
Wackbag Staff
Always hated Ellio's. Never had Tombstone until I bought some a few weeks ago at Winn-Dixie because it was on-sale. It's not bad.

Party Rooster

Unleash The Beast
DiGiorno's and Tombstone are the only frozen ones I'll buy. Never heard of Ellio's.

Sinn Fein

Infidel and White Interloper
Wackbag Staff
I bought Freschetta last week because it was buy one, get one free. I haven't tried it yet.

Motor Head

I haven't had one in a few years, but I grew up on Tombstone Pizzas. When I was a kid we would add extra cheese and sliced pepperoni to them. Mom always saw them as the base to a really good pizza night when she felt too lazy to make us real pizza.


it's a man, baby!!!

about the best froze pizza

little extra cheese and some more meat and it isn't a bad pizza