Edwin Kanner, Longtime Veteran of the Electrical Industry, Passes Away at Age 92

Edwin Benjamin Kanner, legend in the wire and cable industry, as well as a corporate leader and successful entrepreneur, passed away on November 5 at the age of 92.

Ed was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 2, 1922 to Charles and Grace Kanner.  After the tragic deaths of both parents when he was a teenager, Ed undertook responsibility for caring for himself and his older sister, Gladys. He earned his Eagle Scout at the early age of 12 and was a competitive tennis player throughout his life, captain of his high school team. A graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School, Ed was the Senior Class President and won Top Athlete and Academic awards.

After graduation from Baruch College at The City College of New York, Ed enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 and served with distinction as Paymaster and Lieutenant First Class for the USS Wiley Destroyer in the Pacific Fleet. He saw combat at both Okinawa and Iwo Jima and received a Presidential commendation in addition to multiple other theater commendations and decorations.

At the end of WWII, the Navy awarded Ed full scholarships to both Harvard Business and Harvard Law School.  He accepted Harvard Business School and graduated with an MBA in 1948.

After working briefly at Merrill Lynch in New York, Ed moved to Los Angeles to join Fairchild Publications.  From there he moved into the wire and cable business and his career spanned the breadth of the major developments in the industry during the second half of the 20th century. He began his career with Western Insulated Wire, rising to become the President and was present when the first plastic extruders were installed in the mid-fifties. Ed helped create Bronco 66, the premium portable cord that was demanded by name for a generation. Later, as President of Carol Cable, he introduced Vutron, a premium cable designed to compete with Bronco 66.

After the sale of Carol Cable to Avnet, he served as COO of Avnet Inc. and served as a member of the Avnet Board of Directors. He later was Division President of Canada Wire and Cable (a division of Noranda). In the late 80s, he became President of American Insulated Wire (AIW) as well as President of Pacific Electricord and Vice President of Leviton, Inc.  He was active in the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).  With a wise and warm manner, he consistently built strong brands with extensive sales networks.  Over his long career, he mentored and encouraged many of the current leaders of today’s wire and cable industry.

While working full time in the wire and cable industry, Ed was a successful entrepreneur in his spare time.  Among his many thriving business efforts, he started and ran a flourishing national floral business and a mail order vitamin company.

Included among the numerous honors Ed received during his renowned career were: the Wire and Cable Manufacturers Alliance’s Distinguished Career Award in 1994; the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association’s Manufacturer of the Year in 2002; and, the National Association of Electrical Distributors’ Award of Merit in 2005.

Even in retirement he remained actively engaged in the issues and developments in the wire industry. He consulted with and served on the Board of Directors of Service Wire Company from 2007 to his passing.

Ed was always committed to philanthropy and helping those in need.  He was involved in organizing a YMCA in East Los Angeles, and was a long time supporter of UCLA.  He served on numerous boards throughout his life, including the UCLA History Board of Advisors and his generosity and spirit will long be remembered. He and his wife Penny funded an endowment for women’s studies at UCLA in the history department, in addition to funding the Edwin and Barbara Kanner Award at Baruch College at The City University of New York.  He was an active supporter of Hillel at UCLA and the Anti-Defamation League.

Ed is survived by his loving wife and partner of over 70 years, Dr. S. Barbara (Penny) Kanner, and his sister Gladys.  Ed was a devoted father to Jaimie, Richard and Keith and a doting grandfather to his seven grandchildren as well as a caring and generous friend to all who were fortunate to know him.

The family held a private memorial service at Hillside Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.  Contributions can be made in Ed’s name to the Hillel at UCLA, the History Department of UCLA or a charity of your choice.

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