HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The family of Mike Kittredge released a statement confirming that the Yankee Candle founder and Holyoke native had died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston on Wednesday night.

Kittredge graduated with an Associate’s Degree from Holyoke Community College in 1973.

Three decades later, he provided $1 million for construction of the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development, inspiring the dreams of thousands of HCC students.

Jeffrey Hayden “The image that comes to mind for me is that Michael was sitting in a classroom on the instructor’s desk and he was facing the students,” Jeffrey Hayden, HCC’s V.P. of Business and Community Services recalled. “He was dressed casually and he exuded a sense of calmness, but and at the same time, he had a level of energy and excitement.”

Mike Kittredge started making candles in his parents’ basement 50 years ago, eventually founding Yankee Candle Company, in South Deerfield.

Mike Kittredge will be remembered by the students who received scholarships bearing his name. The spirit of success embodied by Kittredge has enabled Eric Grigoryan to found his own film company.

“Coming from a low-income family, this scholarship is definitely a big boost,” Girgoryan told 22News, “especially since that scholarship is awarded for entrepreneurial spirit, I’m planning to use that money towards my education and on using part of that money also on investing in my film business.”

Each year, thousands of students are geared toward success by what they learn at the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development at HCC.