Michael Kittredge, Yankee Candle founder, dies at 67

  • Michael Kittredge II, founder of Yankee Candle CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 7/25/2019 8:18:03 AM

 

Michael J. Kittredge II, founder of Yankee Candle, died Wednesday evening at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston surrounded by family and friends, after a brief illness, according to Tim O’Brien, a representative for the family.

Kittredge, 67, a Leverett resident, is best known as the entrepreneurial founder of the Yankee Candle Company, which he began in his family home in 1969.

His scented candles took the giftware marketplace by storm, and the company rapidly expanded internationally. Considered a marketing visionary, he developed many “entertainment retailing” concepts before that term became widely known in business. His innovations helped make the company’s Deerfield flagship store one of the most visited attractions in Massachusetts.

After retiring from Yankee Candle, Kittredge took a hiatus from business. He loved to travel with his family and friends to places as diverse as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Alaska, Australia and Antarctica.

As a two-time cancer survivor, Kittredge became a devoted supporter of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and served on its board of directors for years. An ardent believer in the importance of education and health, he helped create Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Kittredge Surgical Center, Holyoke Community College’s Kittredge Center, the Kittredge Building at The Bement School in Deerfield and many other philanthropic endeavors.

He re-entered the candle business in 2010, helping his son Michael Kittredge III, launch the Kringle Candle Company and its associated Farm Table Restaurant in Bernardston.

Kittredge suffered a stroke 2012, which limited his movement and speech, but he characteristically battled back with courage and stamina. He switched from guitar to drums in his informal band, and made extensive progress in regaining speech. Above all, his greatest passion was spending time with his children, playing games, watching their home videos, reviewing his son’s latest candle products and enjoying meals together.

Kittredge was predeceased by his parents and an older brother, James Jr.. He is survived by his son, Michael James, also of Leverett, and two daughters, Kylie Madison and Casey Jean of Amherst, as well as family in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Vermont, California and Hawaii.

No public calling hours or funeral services are planned at this time.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to any of the organizations mentioned above.




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