Dentist founded isle candy business
Michael Tsai / Mtsai@staradvertiser.com
Dr. Michael Purdy came to Hawaii to practice dentistry but will be best remembered as one of the state’s most popular purveyors of chocolates, nuts and toothsome confections.
Owner and founder of Island Princess, Purdy died on Aug. 9 at age 61.
Purdy grew up in Valsetz, Ore., and attended Oregon State University and the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center.
In 1983, Purdy and and his wife, Gwen, moved to Wailuku, where Purdy opened a dental practice.
Two years later, the couple founded the Maui’s Best retail store chain. The following year, Purdy started Island Princess, offering a line of gourmet chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and other confections. By 1988, Purdy had retired from dentistry to manage Island Princess full time.
“Michael Purdy was a self-made man with a tireless work ethic,” said Island Princess General Manager Jerry Kalua in a statement Friday. “He had a down-to-earth style that immediately made one feel comfortable when talking to him. He touched so many lives within the company, as well as within the local and international business community.”
Purdy’s entrepreneurial instincts and willingness to work hard were apparent early on.
At age 6, he washed cars and chopped firewood for money. At 12, he spent his savings to buy a lawn mower, which he used to start his own neighborhood mowing business. At 15, he lied about his age to get a job at a plywood mill, a job that helped pay for college and dental school.
Purdy is survived by his wife, Gwen; father Oswald; sisters Deborah Delaney and Kelly Stenberg; and brothers Kevin and Tim.
Private services will be held in Oregon.
Donations may be made to Providence Portland Medical Foundation, 4805 NE Glisan St., Portland, OR 97213. (Please note on check or donation: “In Memory of Michael Purdy.”) Online donations in memory of Michael Purdy can be made at oregon.providence.org. All donations will be directed to a cancer research project that Purdy participated in last year.