SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Yankee Candle Founder and Kringle Candle Co-Founder Michael Kittredge II died in a Boston hospital Wednesday night at the age of 67.
Family, friends, and an entire community are mourning his loss. Kittredge started Yankee Candle at his family home in South Hadley, before building it into the international brand it is today.
Kittredge leaves a legacy of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, his love for music, and above all his family. He founded the Yankee Candle Company in 1969, taking the giftware marketplace by storm with his scented candles.
Kittridge, was most recently a resident of Leverett, but graduated from South Hadley High School, and attended Holyoke Community College and UMass. After starting Yankee Candle in his parents home, he was a maverick in marketing, launching “entertainment retailing” concepts like the iconic Deerfield flagship Yankee Candle store.
“I think for everybody it’s always the place to come,” said Shelbea Williams. “Especially during Christmas. When I use to work here, It was just season, kids just would light up, it was amazing. I use to live in Nevada, and everybody out there knew Yankee Candle. It was like it was everywhere. It was well known everywhere.”
The company’s South Deerfield flagship store is one of New England’s most popular destinations, bringing tourists from all over the world to Yankee candle Village.
“He’s definitely helped out South Deerfield, forever. Brought people to town, brought business. The guy did a lot for this town,” said South Deerfield resident Tom Kolakoski.
Kittredge and the company he founded and sold in 1998, impacted many local businesses, including Damn Yankees BBQ.
“The impact Yankee Candle has had on the Deerfield area has been huge, absolutely huge like it pulls a lot of traffic off of 91 from different states,” said Damn Yankees BBQ Manager, Jessica Balk.
Balk told 22News Damn Yankees BBQ has been opened for less than a year, giving credit to Yankee Candle’s foot traffic as a great source of business.
Twelve years after retiring from Yankee Candle, Kittredge re-entered the candle business in 2010, helping his son Michael Kittredge the third launch Kringle Candle Company and its Farm Table Restaurant in Bernardston.
Kittridge, a two-time cancer survivor, was also known for his charitable efforts. He served on the board of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Cooley-Dickinson Hospital’s Kittredge Surgical Center, Holyoke Community College’s Kittredge Center, and the Kittredge Building at The Bement School in Deerfield are all named after him.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking people to donate to any of the organizations mentioned in his honor. They have not announced any public calling hours or funeral services.
Kittredge leaves behind a son and two daughters.