Edgar R. Goldenberg, 88, of Center City, the last of the third generation of family executives to run the Goldenberg Candy Co. known for its Peanut Chews, died Sunday, May 3, of congestive heart failure at Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Florida.
He joined the firm in 1957 as a Philadelphia-area salesman. In 1967, he left to form another company, but returned to Goldenberg in 1976 as a sales manager.
By the time the company was sold in 2003 to the Bethlehem-based Just Born Inc., Mr. Goldenberg was the CEO and chairman. He retired in 2003.
The business was founded in 1890 by his grandfather David, a Romanian immigrant. Initially, it was a small candy store on Frankford Avenue.
Peanut Chews, bars of roasted peanuts covered with molasses and chocolate, were introduced in 1917. The candies were such a hit that the firm stopped making other confections.
In 1967, he partnered with his friend Franklin S. Chase to form the candy brokerage firm of Chase-Goldenberg Associates. He sold his shares in the company to his friend in 1976, so he could return to the Goldenberg Candy Co.
“Ed marked the sale of his interest in the company to his partner and close friend as one of the most memorable moments in his career,” the National Confectionery Sales Association wrote in 2000, when it inducted him into its Candy Hall of Fame.
Born in Wynnefield, he was the son of I. Harry and Sylvia Goldenberg. He grew up in Bala Cynwyd and graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1949.
He graduated in 1954 from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. After completing his training at the Air Force Intelligence Officer School, he served three years with the Air Force.
In 1957, he transferred to the Air Force Active Reserve and spent 19 years as a disaster control officer assigned to Philadelphia’s airports. He retired in 1976 with the rank of major.
He volunteered for many professional societies, including as president of the Confectionery Salesmen’s Club of Philadelphia, and on the boards of the National Confectionery Sales Association and the U.S. Confectionery Industry Export program.
Mr. Goldenberg married Carolyn Joan Kominers in 1954. They had four daughters, whom they raised in Melrose Park. She died in 2011.
Mr. Goldenberg was chairman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and a trustee and vice chairman of the national United Jewish Appeal. He served on the boards of several synagogues and Gratz College, as well as the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia.
His proudest volunteer achievement was the building of Park Ephriam Ed Goldenberg in Ramat Hashikma, Israel. It was part of the larger Project Renewal begun in 1977 to team up the Israeli government and the Jewish diaspora to rehabilitate distressed Israeli neighborhoods, according to jewishvirtuallibrary.org.
Mr. Goldenberg was thrilled when the park was dedicated on June 23, 1988.
“We all went over,” said his daughter Mindy Goldenberg Valenci. “The mayor opened the park and had festivities. There were performances by the children of the city.”
He received awards from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Golden Slipper Club, a nonprofit in Bala Cynwyd that serves the young and old.
When not working or volunteering, he enjoyed tennis and bridge, flying a single-engine aircraft, biking, reading, and researching his family genealogy. He spent winters in Boca Raton.
Besides his daughter Mindy, he is survived by daughters Marcy Goldenberg Kardon, Diane Goldenberg Silverstein, and Lauren Goldenberg; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a sister. A brother died in 2013.
Services will be private.