By Sallie James
HIGHLAND BEACH — E. Donald Morando was a devoted father, a World War II veteran and a mechanical engineer whose life was a tribute to the enduring appeal of chocolate and cherries.
The Highland Beach resident and longtime owner of the Queen Anne Candy Co. died on Oct. 15 after a lengthy illness. He was 94.
His wife, Betty, said he never lost his love for the sweet things in life. Born on June 20, 1925, he was the candy man until the end.
“He didn’t eat candy excessively, but he liked to test it,” she said, laughing. “I told him not to bring it home. I especially liked the pecan patties and the Caramellos. The Queen Anne chocolate-covered cherry is still alive and kicking.”
The two married in 1954 after meeting at medical device company Becton Dickinson in New Jersey, where they both worked. The couple began living seasonally in Highland Beach in the mid-1980s and moved there full-time about eight years ago.
The pair lived in Mexico City for the first three years of their marriage, where Mr. Morando worked for General Electric and invented a heat pump. He later got a job working for Quaker Oats in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, but it didn’t last long “because he was a doer and was not meant to sit behind a desk,” his wife said.
Mr. Morando got into the candy-making business in 1969 when he and some business associates purchased a company called Fascination. In 1972 he bought the Queen Anne Candy Co. and merged the two candy businesses into one. Luden’s (of the cough drop fame) purchased Queen Anne in 1982, with Mr. Morando still at the helm. Mr. Morando got out of the candy business in 1984 when the Hershey Co. purchased Luden’s, Betty Morando said.
“He was in the business for 20 years or so. He was a mechanical engineer, so he could get a machine to make the candy faster and cheaper. He took the complete line of chocolate-covered cherries away from Brach’s,” she recalled.
Mr. Morando accomplished everything with the sight of just one eye. He lost an eye at age 18 when his Navy ship was struck by a torpedo. Betty Morando said his disability never slowed him a bit.
A graduate of the Stevens Institute of Technology, Mr. Morando had a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in business.
His technical savvy helped him automate, his wife said. And the ability to automate helped his business become more competitive.
“He invented things — a way to automate, rather than make it by hand, and in mass quantities. His mechanical engineering (degree) was in rocket science. It’s the machinery that makes it. He could make something, fix it and make it work (better),” Betty Morando said.
In 1984 he invented and patented an adapter for traditional egg cartons that would allow smaller candy pieces to fit snugly inside the cartons. In 2009, he patented a candy-making process that improved the shelf life of candies made from fresh fruit. The innovations were just a few examples of the ways he economized the candy-making business.
Their three children all worked at one time or another at the candy company.
Betty Morando said her husband was active until he fell ill with leukemia about five months ago. He had worked as a consultant until about two years ago, she noted.
Most recently Mr. Morando had helped advise an Orlando-based candy company on a piece of machinery that would help make its candy better, his wife said.
“He was happiest when he was thinking and creating and working on something that required research,” she said. “He wasn’t the type of man to go out and play golf all day, although he did play golf.”
Mr. Morando is survived by his wife, their three children, three grandchildren, one great-grandchild, a brother and several nieces and nephews.
Services were held on Oct. 18 at St. Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach. Burial was in the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth Beach.