James M. Michopoulos, a member of the Colorado Springs family that owned Michelle Chocolatiers & Ice Cream Candies for more than a half-century, died Friday after a lengthy illness. He was 57.

With its candy, ice cream and restaurant, Michelle’s became a beloved institution for many Springs-area residents and visitors — delighting families and tourists with its treats and confections.

At various times, Michopoulos helped manage the familiar Michelle’s store that operated for decades on Tejon Street in downtown, as well as locations at The Citadel mall and in suburban Denver, said his brother, Andy Michopoulos.

“He was a dedicated operator, having grown up in the business as we all did,” Andy said. “He was well versed in the operation of the store and he was a very creative person. ... Jimmy could really decorate a fancy sundae or do a really good job of decorating Easter eggs.”

James Michopoulos also was active in the community, Andy Michopoulos said. He worked as an ambulance driver for Mountain Valley Ambulance; served as a volunteer firefighter and reserve officer for the Colorado Springs Police Department; and officiated high school football and wrestling, his brother said.

James Michopoulos also was an active supporter of several local nonprofits, including Silver Key Senior Services, Pikes Peak Hospice and the CASA of the Pikes Peak Region. He also was a member of a local Elks Lodge.

He had attended Skyway Elementary School, Cheyenne Mountain Junior and Senior High Schools, and Pikes Peak Community College.

Michopoulos’ late parents, John and Lois, came to Colorado Springs in 1952 and opened Michelle’s candy store that year on South Tejon Street — using many candymaking recipes the couple had learned from Lois’ father. Those recipes were later used by the couple’s children when they took over the business.

Michelle’s moved to 122 N. Tejon St. in 1954, where it remained until it closed in May 2007. An expansion to suburban Denver a few years earlier led had to financial troubles for the business.

A service for James Michopoulos will take place at 10 a.m. today at Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, 2215 Paseo Road in Colorado Springs. Entombment will take place at 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Gardens Cemetery & Funeral Home, 3825 Airport Road.

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen

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