WAYNESVILLE — Jay Twomey perished in a fire that leveled his beloved mountain estate in Waynesville on May 21, 2014. Born Oct. 25, 1946, Jay would have celebrated his 68th birthday this year. Linda Twomey (Cusick), his wife of 36 years, survives him. Jay’s only sibling, Susanne Twomey/(R. Rubin), of Oakland, California, and Linda’s brother, Brian Cusick, her sisters, Cathleen Humphrey/(C. Bryant), Elizabeth Sullivan/(J. Sullivan), and Debra Cusick/(P. Girourard), all loved spending time with Jay and Linda at their homes in Bloomington, Indiana, Las Vegas, Nevada, and at their mountaintop home in Waynesville.
Waiting at the Rainbow Bridge to welcome Jay and his cat, Kitty, who also died in the fire, are his parents, Jerry and Jane (Schilling) Twomey, and his beloved pets, Christy, Chief, Clancy, Seamus, Trooper, Mickey, Maud and Jennie. Later that day, Buddy, his elderly companion of 16 years, joined them. Given Jay’s love of the animal kingdom, it’s possible to imagine everything from squirrels to elephants welcoming a special human who truly treasured animals.
Jay’s passions for business, music and culture shaped his life and inspired his early and lifelong success. His love of rock and roll at age 17 prompted him to form Galaxy Promotions, which booked a number of rock concerts at the Hammond (Indiana) Civic Center in the early 1960s. Chuck Berry came to the Twomey house for payment after performing one night and was no doubt surprised to learn that it was a teenager who booked his concert.
After graduating from Hammond High School, Jay went to Bloomington, Indiana, and college at Indiana University. Soon thereafter, his relentless entrepreneurial drive led him to co-develop a highly successful campus restaurant, the Vienna Dog House. The restaurant was so popular that it sometimes had to turn away customers to prevent exceeding the maximum capacity of patrons permitted by law. The Vienna Dog House introduced southern Indiana to the glories of the best of Chicago hot dogs. With what was to become a trademark in any Twomey-owned business, Jay ensured that only top quality products were used. No mere vegetable oil for the Vienna Dog House French fries; only high-grade peanut oil would do.
Jay subsequently opened an art gallery and thereafter purchased Peterson’s Bakery, which he expanded and transformed into Peterson’s Restaurant, an IU legend for over 25 years. Jay specialized in being one of the first to bring West Coast trends, such as frozen yogurt, video game arcades and espresso bars to the Midwest. From Bloomington, he and Linda moved to Las Vegas, where he started and developed Jay’s Markets, each store uniquely designed and catering to the local community.
Following the sale of his businesses in 2006, Jay and Linda retired to Waynesville, where he purchased the top of one of the highest mountains in North Carolina, built a retreat of his own design and spent the rest of his too-short retirement enjoying the scenic views and wildlife right outside his window.
Continuing his love of movies and music, he also enjoyed watching movies and concert DVDs in his home theater, immersing himself in all kinds of music and basking in his well-equipped, Twomey-designed man cave. He fully enjoyed entertaining his family and visiting with friends.
Jay always enjoyed the best life had to offer. He would never want California champagne if French champagne were available. He loved travelling and saw much of Europe, the Caribbean and most of the United States. He could enjoy watching a bear running through the woods near his house just as much as the beauty of a sophisticated European capital. Jay left his mark of excellence on everything he touched and his wit, charm and originality will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
Soon, a memorial service in Bloomington will honor Jay’s life. Please celebrate by donating to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, UT (http://bestfriends.org).
Condolences may be made at www.ashevillemortuaryservices.com.