James O. Welch; Founder of Candy Manufacturing Firm

From Times Wire Services

James O. Welch, founder and former president of the candy manufacturing firm that bore his name and brother of the late founder of the John Birch Society, is dead.

He was 79 and died Tuesday in Boca Raton, Fla., the company announced. He had spent his winters in Florida since retiring in 1978.

He began his business career with the Oxford Candy Co., and in 1927 he borrowed $480 and founded his own candy business, James O. Welch Co. of Cambridge.

After sale of the company to National Biscuit Co. in 1963, he became president of the corporation’s confectionary division and was elected a Nabisco director. He retired from the presidency in 1965 and continued as a director until 1978.

Welch was in the news briefly in 1961, when he publicly disavowed the ultraconservative views of his brother, Robert, who died on Jan. 6.