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Edward Vinnicombe Jr., 87, McCormick & Co. executive, an 'old school' salesman


Edward J. Vinnicombe Jr., a longtime executive with McCormick & Co. Inc. who later opened a bicycle sales and rental and gift shop on the Eastern Shore, died Saturday of a brain blood clot at Pines Nursing Home in Easton. He was 87.

Mr. Vinnicombe started work at McCormick in 1945 and retired in 1975.

He was in charge of the company's Bulk & Institutional Division for 19 years, helping to stock McCormick products in hotels, restaurants and clubs across the country and make it a multimillion-dollar operation.

While with McCormick, Mr. Vinnicombe was known as an "old school" salesman who was always dapper and had a flamboyant personality.

"He was really a dynamic public speaker," said Jim Lynn, a McCormick spokesman.

"He had a vast knowledge of the hotel business."

The Bulk & Institutional Division, which he directed, eventually grew to two divisions -- industrial flavor and food service -- and their profits represented an important part of the company's growth.

In addition, Mr. Vinnicombe directed all of McCormick's tea operations during his career.

He was also instrumental in strengthening the Tea Council of the United States, a nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion of tea.

A native of Cambridge, Mass., Mr. Vinnicombe graduated from Cornell University's School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration in 1933 and began work as an assistant manager at a Concord, N.H., hotel.

For the next nine years he worked at several New England hotels in managerial positions before serving in the Army from 1942 to 1945.

Upon his retirement from McCormick, he moved to Oxford and opened the Oxford Mews Bicycle Boutique.

At first, the business specialized in bike sales and rental, but later added food, gifts and nautical items.

"Originally, he thought it was going to be a place where he could sit in a rocking chair and rest, but it just took off," said his wife, Sylvia Scott, whom he married in 1948, and who for many years was the on-air personality and producer of "The Woman's Angle" show on WMAR-TV (Channel 2).

"It was a lot better than we anticipated."

The store is a "modern-day general store," according to his wife, and today is the largest retail business in Oxford. Mr. Vinnicombe worked there as recently as this summer.

Mr. Vinnicombe was involved in numerous business, professional and social organizations, including the Annapolis Yacht Club, the Cornell Club of Maryland, the Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education, the Talbot Country Club, the Restaurant Association of Maryland, the New England Innkeepers Association and the National Restaurant Association.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 4 at Trinity Episcopal Church on Morris Street in Oxford.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Susan Vinnicombe of Fairfax, Calif.; and a brother, Herbert G. Vinnicombe of New Hampshire.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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