TEAM TIDBIT: Ethnic Diversity is our Strength


Did you know that the Takacs McGinnis team is made up of individuals who come from many different ethnic backgrounds? In this issue, attorneys Barbara McGinnis and Tim Takacs, elder care coordinators Pati Bedwell and Debra King, outreach coordinator Dana Hentschel, and office manager Lisa Proctor share some fun facts about their ancestry, family traditions, and much-loved recipes.

Varied Backgrounds

Barbara McGinnis’ mother was born and raised in Trier, Germany. She met Barbara’s father while he was stationed there after World War II. They married in Germany and came stateside in 1962.

Tim Takacs father’s parents (Louis and Helen) were born in the old Austria-Hungarian empire in what is now Czechoslovakia. Helen came to the U.S. in the 1920s and settled in Hammond, Indiana, with the children; Louis came later. The family story is that Louis was a POW in far eastern Russia in the Russian Civil War. He and a buddy escaped and made their way back to Hungary by following the railroad.

Lisa Proctor’s father’s family is mostly English and Native American, per family lore. Her mother’s family is English and Scotch/Irish. Some of her mother’s family came in the 1700s, with her great, great, great maternal grandfather emigrating from Liverpool, England to South Carolina. His descendants eventually found their way to Kentucky.

Patti Bedwell’s father is German; her mother Scotch/Irish. Everyone came to the U.S. in the 1800s. Patti says that both families claim to be Pennsylvania Dutch, and both also claim that Scotch-Irish bullheadedness beats German stubbornness.

Debra King is German on her mother’s side and Croatian on her father’s side. Her paternal grandfather immigrated in the early 1900s when he was 18. Since there is no “Y” in the Croatian language, his name, originally spelled Jelencik, was translated to Yelencich.

Dana Hentschel’s paternal grandmother is Sicilian, and her other relatives are a mixed bag of French, Greek, Irish, and other Western European nationalities. The story goes that Dana’s ancestors were Native Americans specifically from both the Cherokee and Creek tribes. She was raised to believe that she had enough Native American heritage to receive a scholarship. However, according to the ancestry DNA tests she took recently, Dana has zero percent Native American blood. Both sides of her family believe these tests to be lies.

Generations of Family Traditions

In Lisa Proctor’s family, like most southern families, most traditions revolved around food. Lisa’s parents always made homemade boiled custard and egg nog for Christmas, using the recipes passed down through the generations. Lisa’s mother always baked many, many jam cakes and fruit cakes from recipes handed down. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, Lisa’s grandmother always made an oyster dressing casserole, in addition to the standard cornbread dressing that her mother had always made.  

For Patti Bedwell’s family, sauerkraut was a symbol for good luck; today, she keeps her distance from the dish. Pretzels were also a constant presence in the family home. Several family members were twisters in pretzel factories. To this day, her father keeps several bags of dark splits in the house.   

Raised by her great grandparents, Dana Hentschel grew up with turnip greens, ham hocks, and cornbread. Dana’s Sicilian grandmother’s signature family dish was “Peas and Pasta.” Dana’s initial encounter with her husband’s signature family dish—Rouladen—happened during her first Christmas with his family. During the ride to St. Louis, Dana’s husband described the dish (dill pickles covered with onions and mustard, wrapped in steak, covered with gravy). Convinced he was pulling her leg, Dana shared Jeff’s story with his parents, laughing that she couldn’t believe how he had tried to trick her by describing such a disgusting-sounding concoction. The joke was on Dana. Rouladen is a real dish, and a delicious one that the family makes to this day.

Recipes Handed Down

What recipes handed down from the generations do staff members like to make today?

Mother’s German Christmas Cookies are still a favorite at Barbara McGinnis’ family gatherings. View the recipe.

Lisa Proctor remembers her mother making Jam Cakes, wrapping them in cheesecloth and soaking them in wine in the refrigerator. They stayed there for several weeks before they were iced. Give them a try. 

Pati Bedwell’s paternal grandfather worked at the silk factory and brought home a recipe for Pasties, hand-held meat pies. Allegedly, the recipes came from his Irish co-workers.View the recipe.

Debra King’s mother and grandmother were famous for their hot German potato salad. Her paternal grandmother made a Croatian nut bread call Poticka. Give it a try. 

Tim Takacs’ maternal grandmother, Helen Powley, was famous for her Toffee Squares, which are a favorite at the Takacs McGinnis office. View the recipe.


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