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John E. Tennant, Sr. - Indian Harbour Beach - John E. Tennant, Sr., 95, died after a short illness in Melbourne on Friday, May 7, 2010. His life and legacy are celebrated by his wife of 62 years, Phyllis; his children, Linda Andresen (Thom), Barbara Gray, Jimmy Velvet (Robin) and Jolene Kenyon; his daughter-in- law, Ronnie Tennant; his 12 grandchildren, Darryl Donkel, Dan Donkel, Donna Gloria, Jonathan Gray, David Gray (Jennifer), Shari Kay Tennant, Jimmy Tennant, Scott Velvet, Candida Arvizu, Angie Viall, Linda Tennant, Christi Turner; 26 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; his three brothers, Harry, Jim and Charlie; and his sister, Phyllis Collis (Doug). He was predeceased by his first child, John Jr.; his sister, Ruth Sevigne; and his brother, William. John was a well known Executive Chef in South Florida, having worked in some of the pre-eminent resort hotels and country clubs here in the winters and in the north during the summer, including The Breakers, Palm Beach; Hollywood Beach Hotel; Casa Marina Hotel, Key West; Palm Beach Country Club; Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada; Sagamore Hotel, Lake George, NY; Oceanside Hotel, Magnolia, MA; Mayview Manor, Blowing Rock, NC; Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH; Equinox Hotel, Manchester, VT. Born in Stokesville, VA on May 16, 1914, and a resident of Williamsville, he first came to Palm Beach at the age of 15, Christmas week, 1929, to work at the Breakers Hotel as the "Oyster Man." Through hard work, determination, and the desire to learn more and better himself, he took on increasingly more responsible assignments and developed a reputation for accepting nothing but the best from himself, his colleagues, his staff and his family. During World War II he served with the Seabees in the South Pacific on Hollandia, New Guinea and Mios Woende, having responsibility for a mess hall serving thousands of meals a day. He raised his family in Hollywood, FL. In 1974, Phyllis and John moved to their present home in Indian Harbour Beach (Brevard County) to enjoy the cool breezes and quiet lifestyle of another small beach community. The family is grateful to the many neighbors in Indian Harbour Beach whose friendship John cherished. Although he outlived most of his hotel associates, they lived on his memories and in the many stories John loved to tell. The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the staffs of Senior Bridge, Autumn House and Vitas Innovative Hospice Care for their compassionate and competent care, their genuine concern for both John and his family, and their unwavering commitment to let John lead the way (as he always had) during his final journey. No services will be held. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in John's memory to the Vitas Charitable Fund (877-800-2951) or The James Beard Foundation Scholarship Fund (212-675-4984). The family will receive visitors at a later date to celebrate John's life, retell some of his many stories and recall the lessons he taught us all. Please call for further details.

Published in FLORIDA TODAY on May 9, 2010
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