Michael J. “Mike” Kittredge II, the founder of the Yankee Candle Company, passed away Wednesday. He was 67 years old. Kittredge began making candles 50 years ago in the garage of his childhood home in South Hadley, making his first candle out of melted crayons as a gift for his mother. The candle company grew to become one of the largest employers in Western Massachusetts, with about 1,400 employees in the region, including at the offices and flagship store in South Deerfield, the Whately factory and a facility in East Longmeadow.