Ed Birnn, former cellist and candy maker, died peacefully at his home in Monroe Township, N.J., on the morning of Thursday, June 4. He was 85. Born in New York City in 1924, Birnn moved to Highland Park, N.J., with his parents, Julia Collymore Cummins, and Charles Henry Birnn, founder of Birnn Candy.
Prior to his candy career, Birnn was a well-respected cellist. In the late forties and early fifties, he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. In 1949, he moved back to New Jersey and joined his father in the family business - Birnn Candy in Highland Park - where the two opened 11 retail stores sprinkled throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Birnn enjoyed his many candy friends and associates. He always spoke kindly of the New York to Philadelphia “candy corridor” that was populated by family candy companies, suppliers, competitors and friends. He was an active member of the Rotary Club and a Freemason, and served on the boards of the First Savings and Loan and Raritan Savings and Loan in New Brunswick, N.J.
In 1973, Birnn retired from the chocolate business and devoted himself to teaching and playing the cello. He is survived by his wife, Jane Birnn; his eldest son, Jeff Birnn (Birnn Chocolates of Vermont), and his wife, Jane, and their daughter, Julia, of Grand Isle, Vt.; his youngest son, Bill Birnn (Birnn Chocolates of Vermont), and his wife, Janet, of Jericho, Vt.; and his daughter, Andrea Cunnell, her husband, John Cunnell (Birnn Chocolates, N.J.), and their sons, Charles and Philip of Somerset, N.J.