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Michael Kelly, owner, co-founder of Kelly's Country Store Nov. 14, 1943 -- Sept. 26, 2009

Michael Kelly, the owner and co-founder of Kelly's Country Store on Grand Island, died Saturday in DeGraff Memorial Hospital, North Tonawanda, after a brief illness. He was 65.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Kelly founded the store with his parents, Walter and Grace Kelly, since deceased, in 1962. The Grand Island Boulevard business features candy, chocolates and gift and specialty items, and is known widely for its elaborate holiday displays.

A full-service mail-order chocolate manufacturer, it supplies candy to county fairs throughout the Northeast.

"He worked there every day," said his son, Kevin, who co-owns the store with his brother, Sean. "He loved it."

Mr. Kelly continued a tradition begun by his own father, who started a jar candy business at summer fairs in the 1950s. Kelly's Country Store, which continues to be a family owned and operated business, is now a destination point for Easter and Christmas chocolate shoppers.

Mr. Kelly enjoyed collecting farm tools and other household antiques, as well as war memorabilia, including items suspended from the store's ceiling. In the store's Christmas room, the Kelly family's collection of stuffed toys, including many came from the fairs where their candies were sold, hang from the ceiling.

Mr. Kelly was active in the Grand Island community. He was a fourth-degree member of Mary Star of the Sea Council 4752, Knights of Columbus. He also was active with the Lions Club of Grand Island and helped to organize the annual summer picnic for children with disabilities.

He was a member of St. Stephen's Catholic Church.

In addition to his sons, survivors include his wife of 45 years, the former Deanna Dayton; two daughters, Maureen Knight and Michelle Kelly-Grim; and a sister, Kathleen Burbas.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Stephen's Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.

[RODDA]

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