Ted Twardzik, Sr., Founder of Mrs. T’s Pierogies, Passes Away at 89
Shenandoah, Pa., November 11, 2016 – Theodore F. “Ted” Twardzik, Sr., founder of Mrs. T’s® Pierogies, passed away on Thursday, November 10, 2016, with his loving family by his side. He was 89.
Mr. Twardzik founded the company that bears his mother’s name in 1952, upon returning home from New York City, where he worked as a staff accountant at Arthur Anderson & Company. He was inspired by the long lines of people at church fairs clamoring to buy his mother’s homemade pierogies – and the possibility that these long lines might translate to grocery stores as well. And they did.
With five women sitting around his mother’s kitchen making pierogies and selling them to local stores, he knew he was on to something. It wasn’t long before he had worn out his welcome in that kitchen and decided to move production to the company’s current location in Shenandoah, Pa.
With his pierogies, Mr. Twardzik is credited with bringing a completely new category to the frozen food aisle and is considered a pioneer in the frozen food industry, inventing and developing Mrs. T’s proprietary pierogy-making equipment as well.
Mr. Twardzik took great pride that his original idea, vision and hard work led to the first national brand of frozen pierogies. Today, Mrs. T’s Pierogies is Shenandoah’s largest employer with more than 240 associates. An even greater joy to him was the impact Mrs. T’s had on providing jobs and income to hundreds of employees and their families in the community over the years. Mr. Twardzik never forgot his hometown of Shenandoah and the people who helped him realize his dream.
“Today my family lost a husband, father, grandfather and uncle. Our community lost a tireless advocate for its citizens, and the industry lost a pioneer. We will miss his indomitable spirit, unique sense of humor and tireless work ethic,” said Tom Twardzik, son of Mr. Twardzik and current president of Mrs. T’s Pierogies. “We are humbled to know that his legacy will live on every day in the countless people he touched and the millions of Americans who love Mrs. T’s Pierogies.”
Born on September 7, 1927 to parents Frank and Mary (Benik) Twardzik of Shenandoah, Mr. Twardzik was one of six children. He graduated from Mahanoy Township High School in 1945 and went on to attend the University of Notre Dame. His time in South Bend, In. was interrupted to serve honorably in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the 83rd Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron.
After leaving the service, Mr. Twardzik returned to Notre Dame, graduating with honors in 1951. At Notre Dame he was active in the Glee Club where he served as the group’s treasurer; and was also part of the club’s two appearances on CBS-TV’s Toast of the Town, hosted by Ed Sullivan.
His first job was at Arthur Anderson & Company in New York City, one of the “Big Eight” accounting firms of its time. He left soon after to pursue his entrepreneurial dream of bringing his mother’s pierogies to the masses.
Even after retirement, Mr. Twardzik’s passion for business did not wane. In 2000, he co-founded Lee’s Oriental Gourmet Foods, which is still operating today in Shenandoah, employing 30 people.
Mr. Twardzik and wife Jean supported a multitude of local and national charities. They were members of the Edward Frederick Sorin Society Founder’s Circle at Notre Dame, created the Twardzik Family General Library Endowment and supported a Distinguished Library Collection in Polish Studies. The Twardziks were also supporters of Hillsdale College and are President’s Club Life Members. They created the Twardzik Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Endowment, which funds the Twardzik Business Seminar Scholarship and the Twardzik Free Enterprise Tradition Award Scholarship. The couple donated the building on South Main Street in Shenandoah that now houses the Greater Shenandoah Area Historical Society. Mr. Twardzik was a Pace Setter of the Schuylkill United Way, continuing his father Frank’s charter efforts with the Schuylkill County Society for Crippled Children.
Mr. Twardzik is survived by his beloved wife of 60 wonderful years, Jean; his three sons, Ted Jr., Tim, and Tom; five grandsons; and loved nieces and nephews.