Edward James Mullins died on Nov. 24, 2017 at his Westchester home, surrounded by his family after a long fight with cancer. A longtime resident of Oak Park, River Forest, and Anna Marie Island in Florida, he will be remembered for his intelligence, humor, and generosity.
Born and raised in Chicago, he literally fought his way out of the West Side. As a member of the Fenwick High School Boxing Team, he built an impressive record, winning the Silver Gloves as well as bouts with CYO/Golden Gloves. Based on this and his equally impressive scholastic achievement, he was awarded a full athletic scholarship to DePaul University. After his sophomore year, he entered the Army Air Force at the beginning of the Korean War, where he boxed in various Armed Forces arenas in the U.S. and Europe. Following his enlistment, he completed his degree.
He began his career in the food industry, working at his family's saloon on the northwest corner of California Avenue and Lake Street, where patrons got a free roast beef sandwich when they bought a beer. It was the barbeque sauce that people noticed. Restaurant owners ordered it by the gallon, which convinced his father, Harry, that it was time to get out of the bar business and founded Mullins Food Products which continues to this day as a major supplier of liquid condiments to global quick-serve restaurants and food companies.
There, he learned the basics of the food industry before heading off on his own, eventually taking a sales position with National Starch Co. (now part of Ingredion) before starting his own firm, E.J. Mullins Co. in 1964. During a more than 60-year career, Mr. Mullins helped change the way the food industry in American operated. The E.J. Mullins Company was one of the first companies specifically devoted to selling and servicing industrial food companies with commodities and specialty ingredients. There now exist many such firms throughout the country, marketing a very high percentage of products sold to industrial users.
His business took him around the world, but it can be argued that one trip in particular had historic significance. In 1977, he was part of a contingent of businessmen allowed to travel to Cuba to meet with President Fidel Castro. The trip, which had U.S. Government approval through the efforts of Senator Hubert Humphrey. He furthered his business interests to include real estate and acquired properties as diverse as farmland, rental properties, and Florida retail spaces.
A lifelong lover of water, whether lake, river or sea, he was an avid boater and owned and operated crafts large and small, sail and engine-powered, from the lakes of Wisconsin and the Illinois River to the Gulf of Mexico. He found some of his greatest joys exploring these waterways with family and friends.
Throughout his career, Edward was a mentor, advisor, and mediator to an uncountable number of people and companies during his storied career. His door was always open and his wisdom constantly sought from people of all walks of life. His generosity was well known but primarily anonymous as keeping his own counsel was his nature. His company is now owned and managed by his children and grandchildren as they keep his legacy of excellence and integrity alive.
Edward Mullins was the husband of Monica (nee Urban); father of Timothy (Mabel), Mark (Eileen), Maureen (Brian) Connelly, Kevin, Molly (Tom) Swock, Meg (Kurt) Amen, John (Norine), Terrence (Erica), Joey Urban and Stacy (John) Jeffcott; grandfather of 26; great-grandfather of five; son of the late Harry and Mabel (nee Heeney); and the brother of Therese (Bob) Rigali, Patricia Pinter, the late June (late Milt) Kroll and the late Jack (late Joan) Mullins.
A memorial visitation was held at Divine Infant Church in Westchester on Dec. 5, followed by a funeral Mass, with interment at Woodlawn Cemetery.
The family appreciates memorials to Just Live Inc. (www.justliveinc.org) or the John F. & Joan P. Mullins Charitable Foundation, c/o Mullins Food Products, 2200 S. 25th Ave., Broadview, IL 60155, Attn: Jackie Stent.
Arrangements were handled by Conboy-Westchester Funeral Home.
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