Michael Kittredge, Founder Of Yankee Candle, Dies Aged 67 After Brief Illness

Michael Kittredge, Founder Of Yankee Candle, Dies Aged 67 After Brief Illness

The precise details of Michael's medical condition weren't disclosed immediately, but his family affirmed that he had been battling several health problems. 

Michael Kittredge, the founder of well-known American candlestick and dinnerware brand Yankee Candle, has passed away on Wednesday night at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The Boston Globe reported that, according to the statement from his family, Kittredge passed away following a brief illness at the hospital. He was surrounded by relatives and friends. “Mike loved nothing more than seeing other people experience happiness, and he delighted in sharing generously with others,” the release from a family spokesman said. “He was a consummate entertainer, and enjoyed hosting parties and gatherings large and small, all done with his distinctive zeal for quality and getting the tiniest details exactly right.” 





The precise details of his medical condition weren't disclosed immediately, but his family affirmed that he had been battling several health problems.  "As a two-time cancer survivor, Mike became a devoted supporter of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and served on its Board of Directors for years,” the family statement said.

“Mike was an ardent believer in the importance of education and health, and helped create Cooley-Dickinson Hospital’s Kittredge Surgery Center, Holyoke Community College’s Kittredge Center, the Kittredge Building at The Bement School in Deerfield, and many other philanthropic endeavors.”



Going through a brief history of the company, we find that Kittredge founded the Yankee Candle company in the year of 1969 at  South Hadley, Massachusetts. The idea for the company began when he made his first scented candle from melted crayons as a gift for his mother.

The company slowly expanded and moved to South Deerfield in 1983. He sold the company to New York-based private equity company Forstmann Little for $500 million in 1998. Forstmann took the company public in 1999 and  Kittredge remained the company's chairman emeritus. On February 6, 2007, the company was acquired by the private equity group of Madison Dearborn Partners LLC for approximately $1.6 billion. Following that, the Jarden Corporation agreed to buy Yankee Candle for $1.75 billion in the fall of 2013. In 2015, Newell Rubbermaid announced that it would acquire Jarden for over $15 billion of cash and stock.



Reminiscing an interview with the Globe back in 1984, Kittredge said, "We are selling a handmade product that’s unique. Our candles are hand-dipped, scented, and the packaging is certainly unique.”. Aside from his candlemaking business, Kittredge was avidly into music and travel. The family statement said that he was, “an accomplished guitarist and was part of ‘The Bristol Curries’ as a teen and helped lead the band to statewide honors. He maintained his great love of music into adulthood and recorded dozens of original songs in his home studio.”

As for his travel adventures, his family wrote that he loved to travel with his family and friends, and his boundless curiosity to experience many of the world’s great wonders and mysteries led him to places as diverse as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica. He collected countless photos and videos on these trips and treasured the memories deeply.



Kittredge graduated from South Hadley High School in 1970 and received an associate’s degree from Holyoke Community College in 1973, as well as an honorary doctorate from UMass in 2002, his family said. Holyoke Community College posted a message of condolence to the Kittredge family on its official Twitter account on Thursday. “We are so saddened by the passing of HCC alum and longtime friend Michael Kittredge ’73,” the college tweeted. “Our thoughts are with his family.”

With regards to his medical condition, Kittredge previously had a stroke back in 2012 but continued to remain active as a musician and devoted family man. “Above all, Mike’s 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,” the statement said. Kittredge is survived by his son and daughters, and cousins in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Vermont, California, and Hawaii. There has been no mention of any calling hours or funeral services as of yet. 



Mike was a true marketing visionary, developing many 'entertainment retailing' concepts before that term became widely-known in business. His innovations sure helped make the company's Deerfield flagship store one of the most-visited attractions in the state of Massachusetts. Kittredge's marketing acumen is definitely worth looking back on as he helped turn Yankee Candle into a globally recognized brand.

Recommended for you