R. Melvin Goetze Jr., candy company president, dies

He headed East Baltimore candy company that was known for its caramel and licorice creams

  • R. Melvin Goetze Jr.
R. Melvin Goetze Jr.
May 21, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

R. Melvin Goetze Jr., former president of the Goetze Candy Co. Inc., which was known to generations of Baltimoreans for its caramel and licorice creams, died Tuesday of heart failure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Mr. Goetze, who had lived at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson since 2007, was 94.

Born in Baltimore, Randle Melvin Goetze — who went by Melvin — was raised in the Lakeside-Lake Montebello neighborhood. He was a 1935 graduate of City College and studied law at the University of Baltimore.

He went to work for the family-owned candy manufacturer in 1935, later becoming its president.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. merchant marine as a purser aboard the Liberty ship Leslie M. Shaw that was bound in Convoy UGS 18 for Alexandria, Egypt, in the fall of 1943.

On Oct. 4, the convoy was steaming in the Mediterranean 20 miles off Cape Tenes, Algeria, when it was attacked by German bombers. More than seven ships were sunk.

"His ship was carrying ammunition and was not damaged, but he watched the other ships and the boys being blown up. It was very traumatic for him," said Nancy Goetze, a daughter-in-law who lives in Hunt Valley.

After his return to Baltimore, Mr. Goetze worked as a commercial tugboat captain and a shipyard manager before joining with his father, R. Melvin Goetze Sr., in operating the Baltimore Chewing Gum Co. in 1945. The company was renamed the Goetze Candy Co. in 1951 and incorporated in 1958.

R. Melvin Goetze Sr. died in 1972.

The company had been founded in 1895 by August L. Goetze, a German immigrant, and his son, William A. Goetze, and began manufacturing a variety of confections at a plant on Ashland Avenue, near Johns Hopkins Hospital. During the 1920s, the company moved to its present plant in the 3900 block of E. Monument St.

During World War I, the company could no longer obtain chicle, which is the sap from a jungle tree and was an essential component in the production of chewing gum, because it was being used in the manufacture of raincoats and tires for the military.

"My grandfather [Randle Melvin Goetz Sr.] lived on Broadway and didn't know anything about candy, sat down in his kitchen and experimented and came up with the original caramel with the cream center, which he sold door-to-door and on street corners," said Randle Melvin Goetze III, co-chairman of the company, who lives in Hunt Valley.

In the ensuing years, the Goetze Caramel Cream has remained a quintessential Baltimore confection.

"North of Philadelphia, they're called 'Bulls-Eyes,' and in the South, they're known as 'Daisys,'" said Mr. Goetze, who has worked for the company for 54 years.

"Say 'Goetze,' and I can taste them. The cream center is especially good. Every other caramel suffers by comparison," said the Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester. "They were fought over on playgrounds and could be traded for anything."

In 1970, Mr. Goetze was honored with the title "dean of the confection manufacturing industry" by the National Candy Wholesalers Association. He was inducted into the National Candy Hall of Fame in 1984.

He had been a committeeman of the National Confectioners Association and president of the Manufacturing Confectioners of Maryland.

He retired in 1996.

"My father's greatest accomplishment was to keep the family together, and to create and keep a successful business," his son said. "He was respected by everyone and liked by his employees, and would never ask them to do anything that he wouldn't do himself."

Mr. Goetze, who had lived in Lutherville before moving to Blakehurst, had spent summers at a summer home on the Magothy River, where he enjoyed powerboating. He later vacationed in Ocean City, where he was a member of the Dunes Club.

He was a lifelong member of the Baltimore Country Club and spent winters in Naples, Fla., where he was a member of the Grey Oaks Country Club and the Naples Sailing and Yacht Club.

Services are private.

Also surviving are his wife of 72 years, the former Audrey Albert; another son, Spaulding Goetze of Sparks; five grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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