What do hamburgers, firearms, race cars, hard work and raising a successful family have in common? The answer comes quickly when reviewing the phenomenal story of Hopedale’s Rensi Family.
Ernest Henry Rensi entered the world June 6, 1921, a son of Sam and Adelaide Dalpiaz Rensi, when his mother paused briefly from her gardening in Parlett, Ohio, to go into the house and give birth, returning immediately to her outdoor task. At age 15, he lied about his age, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and was sent to Oregon. It was during his stint as a supply transporter for the U.S. Army from 1941-1943 that he began a lifelong tradition of serving as Santa Claus, which he did each year in the community school. He worked in the trucking business and served in many municipal service positions for Hopedale Village and Harrison County, including Hopedale Street Superintendent, Hopedale Village Marshal, Harrison County Juvenile Probation Officer and Harrison County Chief Deputy. He also was a Scoutmaster, a member of the Hopedale Volunteer Fire Department and a charter member of the Hopedale American Legion.
In 1943 he married Virginia Gill Rensi, who held positions as a doctor’s receptionist, legal secretary, accounting clerk and deputy county treasurer, in addition to raising her family with such distinction that she earned the title of Ohio Valley Area Chamber of Commerce’s 1997 Mother of the Year.
Although they held many other full-time jobs, the Rensis were perhaps best known as proprietors of Hopedale’s Alameda Inn -- at one time the only Greyhound bus stop between Cadiz and Pittsburgh. Although Ed set off for college at The Ohio State University not long after the family moved into the inn in 1963, brother Sam, sister, Jo Sana, and foster brother, Ralph Hennis, commenced their entry into the workforce by helping run the inn. Both Sam and Jo Sana would later follow to The Ohio State University. The Rensi Family represents the gold standard of faith, family, hard work, education and traditional American values.
It was Jo Sana who became co-manager of the inn, along with Ralph, spending 36 years in all doing every imaginable job at the Alameda until it closed in 1999. Her forte was the day-to-day cooking while her mother’s was banquet cooking for large crowds. They saw eye-to-eye on almost nothing in the kitchen, but their combined efforts were magical, drawing crowds to the Alameda’s famous buffet. Together they published a cookbook of some of the most beloved recipes of the inn and the family. Jo Sana, who attended both The Ohio State University and the former Jefferson County Technical Institute, is a member of Hopedale Church of Christ and is active in its Women in Faithful Fellowship. She is married to James Maul, who has had a long career in education and now serves as a counselor at Indian Creek High School. He is a lifelong member of St. Agnes Church in Mingo Junction, where he is a cantor and member of the adult choir.
Her son Larry Dennison Jr. has a Bachelor of Science degree in special education from Bethany College and a Master’s in special education from the Franciscan University. He is working toward his Master’s in Administration from the University of Dayton. He is a teacher at Pickerington Central and coaches wrestling and track at Hilliard Darby High School. His wife, Erika, is a graduate of Muskingum College, where she was on the basketball team. She teaches at Karrer Middle School and coaches independent basketball. Their daughters are Leigha, Elaina and Ellie.
Jo Sana’s son Joe Dennison studied ranger services at Hocking College, attended Eastern Gateway Community College for criminal justice and was graduated in 2015 from Belmont College with a degree in civil engineering technology. An avid outdoorsman and conservationist, he has served as a patrolman for the Wintersville Police Department and a deputy for Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. His wife, Miranda, has a Master of Science degree and physician’s assistant certificate from Marietta College, a Master of Science degree and Master of Education degree from Ohio University, Ph.D.’s in both forensic chemistry and forensic psychology from Virginia Polytechnical Institute and she has served in the FBI as a linguistics operator at Quantico and as assistant director and then director of Ballistics, RPG and Explosives in New York.
The two serve as volunteers in child evangelism fellowship, and they recently welcomed the newest member of the family, their son, Owen.
Currently the retired president and chief executive officer of McDonald’s USA, Ed serves as an executive consultant to McDonald’s Restaurant Systems. He has been a member since 1982 of the board of directors of McDonald’s, the company in which he originally commenced his career since joining the world’s premier fast-food chain in 1966 as a grill man and part-time manager trainee on High Street in Columbus, Ohio. He was promoted to restaurant manager within a year and went on to hold nearly every position in the restaurant, along with their field offices, including franchise service positions in Columbus and Washington, D.C., prior to being named to McDonald’s top post in 1991.
After many years, he retired from the position he described as “Chief Hamburger Griller, French Fryer, Shake-maker, and Cheerleader.” He and his wife, Barbara Tyrrell-Rensi, live in Illinois, and he now serves as CEO of Famous Dave’s.
Brother Sam had a distinguished career with Remington Arms as head of international sales and plant manager of the company while serving as a vice president and developer of the Remington Archives Room, starting with the initial research of the historic company in 1991. With Sam’s vision, Remington created a climate-controlled room with open-rack shelving, acid-free boxes, other archival materials and a full staff to tackle the monumental task of preserving the company’s rich heritage. Shortly after that Sam was promoted to run the rifle and shotgun production at the company’s original facility in Ilion, N.Y.
Today Sam lives in North Carolina and operates Rensi and Associates Builders construction company. He previously worked at Consolidated Coal Co. and was a teacher in Worthington, Ohio. He and his wife, Barbara, have three children: Stephanie and her husband Billy Johnson, Angela and her husband, Kenneth Hundley, and Steven Rensi; and a grandson, Taylor Samuel Johnson.
Together, Ed and Sam are proud of their shared endeavor into auto racing with Team Rensi Motorsports and their successful involvement in numerous NASCAR events. In a single season on the Craftsman Truck Series, Team Rensi scored two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. The had two Busch Series wins.Foster brother Ralph, who is now deceased, worked at the R&F Coal Co. His children are William, Matthew and Mariah.