Edward F. Kenik: Former president of Slovenian Home.
Eddie Kenik, who promoted and preserved his ethnic heritage as a Slovenian vocalist
and as president of the Slovenian National Home, died Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008, at
Euclid General Hospital. The 83-year-old Euclid resident, known as the Caruso of
St. Clair Avenue, recorded and performed with the Eddie Buehner and Don Slogar orchestras.
His fan's identified him with such songs as "O Ja," pronounced "Oy-Ya," and "Veseli
Ribencan," also known as "Happy Mountaineer." Kenik showed off his operatic tenor
voice in Glasbena Matica Singing Society productions of such operas as "Carmen,"
"La Traviata" and "The Tales of Hoffmann" in the 1950s and early 1960s. He was a
past president of the society. He and fellow Glasbena vocalists, June Price and Dolores
Mihelich, headlined two major concerts in the late 1970s and recorded a double album.
Kenik, sometimes called "the man with the tear in his voice," went on seven concert
tours of Europe. He performed throughout the Midwest and on the "Polka Varieties"
television show. He sang at numerous Cleveland-area venues and festivals. He also
entertained residents at the Slovene Home for the Aged. He was born Edward F. Kenik
in Cleveland, the second-youngest of eight children born to Slovenian-immigrant parents.
Kenik started singing with organized Slovenian singing groups at age 7. Over the
years, he belonged to such groups as the Zvon Mixed and Male Choruses, Triglav and
St. Vitus Church Choir. From 1960 to 1972, Kenik owned Tino's Bar on St. Clair Avenue,
where he regularly sang along with guest orchestras and polka bands. He earned a
living as a street permit supervisor for the city of Cleveland to support his wife,
Mildred, and their two children. Mildred died in 2001. Kenik, who was president of
the Slovenian National Home on St. Clair Avenue for 24 years before retiring in 1994,
received numerous honors for his singing and his contributions to the Slovenian community.
The Federation of Slovenian Homes named him its Man of the Year in 1970. The National
Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame gave him Cultural/Heritage awards in 1989 and
1994. Kenik also was a recipient of the Polka Hall's Lifetime Achievement Award.