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(printed in Dec 09 Celtic Connection newspaper) “For those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” said Kevin McNicholas, who is more apt to give you a humorous one liner or a few words of wisdom than expound on details, especially when the topic is himself. Wife Mary is his opposite compliment, who, as the old Irish saying goes “would talk the teeth out of a saw” and would not hesitate to give you the full story, particularly when giving accolades to her husband. As owners of the very successful Denver based K-M Concessions and sister businesses that provide food, beverage, and visitor services to zoos, aquariums, sports and entertainment venues in Colorado and around the U.S., you”d think that the days would be busy enough for the McNicholas ” But, somehow they are able to give an extraordinary amount of time back to their Community and help people regardless of background or station in life. Mary explained, “Kevin”s company continued to grow and with that we were always taught to give back, so charity work came easy for us.” and added, “There are so many organizations that Kevin and I have worked for or he has served on the board, that we can”t mention without forgetting someone and they are all dear to our hearts.” And heartfelt the McNicholas intentions are– Mary tells a story about her affable straight talking husband who sometimes has more than a twinkle in his eyes. “We did a birthday party for Catholic Charities Foster Kids at the Denver Zoo and one 9 yr. old asked if he could take a piece of cake home because he had never had a party before and wanted to “save this forever!” You should have seen the tears in Kevin”s eyes.” The McNicholas”s have three grown children, oldest son Sean has a Masters in Technology and Business from DU and works for the family company along with sister Shannon who taught history high school in Chicago for two years before returning to Denver. The youngest in the family, Shannon danced with the Wick School of Irish Dancing for 13 years and still won”t miss a beat when called upon for a reel or gig. Independent middle child Brendan Patrick strayed into Communications which he received a degree in from CU. After working in Sports Information at the University he moved on to the Colorado Rockies and presently works for the Colorado Avalanche where he is Director of Media Services/Internet. Mother Mary said that the lesson of giving back has been passed on to her kids, “The children always pitched in with the Community Service. Our son Sean created a excel check out program for me and to this day we still help non profits do their auctions and use three lap tops to quickly check out buyers.” Both Kevin and Mary have an appreciation for family and their rich Irish heritage. Kevin”s dad came to America by himself from Donoughmore Parish, Ballybofey, Donegal, Ireland in the early 1900 to work the mines in Central City. When they dried up, Kevin”s dad Rickard Patrick McNicholas came to Denver where he met his wife Helen Pollack a 5th generation Coloradoan who hailed from the mining town of Silver Plum. In Denver, Kevin”s dad worked for the Denver Treasury Department and his mom was a devoted volunteer at St. Joseph”s Church and allowed herself one high ball a night of Jamison”s Irish Whiskey until her death at the age of 82. Kevin grew up in West Denver where he attended St. Josephs Catholic Schools and can remember fondly celebrating St. Patrick”s Day with his cousins, aunts, uncles from his early years to when he eventually took over the celebration where close to 100 relatives and friends are treated to corned beef, cabbage, with all the trimmings, at the Beef Palace Restaurant at National Western Complex , a facility managed by K-M Concessions. Mary mom”s family came over from County Meath, Ireland in the late 1800s. Great Grandpa Peter Collins was married to Bridget McIntyre who was born in Belfast. Peter was a black smith and made his way to Joliet, Illinois. Peter and Bridget had 8 children who were all musically inclined. One of the children, Mary”s grandma, Katherine Collins Hoffman, was a famous pianist who travelled the world accompanying famous opera singer Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink. Brother Edward Collins, became a renowned American composer who wrote his music in the Chicago home of Oscar Meyer, his father-in-law as he was married to Frieda Meyer until his death in 1951. It wasn”t until 1989 that Edward”s music was resurrected by the Chicago Symphony, who played songs like “Irish Rhapsody” and” Hibernia” that he wrote during the Great Depression. “A few years ago we were fortunate enough to hear his music played by our Colorado Symphony under the direction of Maestra Marin Alsop” said Mary. Mary”s Grandfather Frank, practiced in the same law firm as Grover Cleveland in New York after he was admitted to the bar in 1877. Frank then went on to help with the Dakota Territory Processing and was elected Mayor of Big Stone City, SD. As that area became more settled, he moved on to St. Paul, Minnesota where he met and married Mary”s grandma Noni Towle. “Grandmother Noni Towle came over from Belfast, Ireland where her father in 1892 started the Log Cabin Syrup and the little word “Towle” you see on the log cabin cans was my grandma”s maiden name.” Grandpa Frank and Grandma Noni took their trust from the Log Cabin Products and started the Hilex Bleach Company for their seven sons. One of these sons was Mary”s dad, John Deloss Eldredge, who grew up in St. Paul in the Catholic Schools and played hockey at Notre Dame University. Upon his return to St. Paul he met Mary Katherine Collins. After they married he went to work for the Hilex Company with his brothers. After the first six children my dad took the company to Dallas where Mary & 5 more siblings was born and learned her first Irish Step Dancing as there was a big Irish community in Dallas. Attracted to Denver”s climate to help Mary”s dad”s health issues, he moved the family and business to the Mile High city where the Hilex Company flourished until his death in 1970 when the family sold it to Sinclair Company. Mary recalled, “My mother continued raising us 11 children and playing the piano that she had studied at St. Catherine”s College in Minnesota — she could play an outstanding rendition of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Song. My mother Katy died of Alzheimer”s but never missed a St. Patrick”s celebration including the year she died on March 24th.” After getting her degree from Colorado State College ” now University of Northern Colorado, Mary went on to become a Physical Education Teacher and Coach in the Catholic Schools. (Mary continues to coach tennis today ” over the past 40 years Mary been involved in some teaching or coaching of sports, and is she”s credited for starting several sports leagues, including East Denver Soccer.) It was during this time that Mary and Kevin met at the Ninth Hole Restaurant in Cherry Creek when the owner introduced them. After embarrassing Mary by singing “I Want to Be Teacher”s Pet” while walking across the dance floor on his knees, Mary took to the door without saying goodby. Kevin missed on his initial shot, but scored points on the rebound. He didn”t know Mary”s last name nor phone number, but did know she taught at St. Johns. He called the school and told the principal he had a sports order that needed to be cleared up by Mary. Mary fell for it, “When I answered the phone he said he had tickets to “Jesus Christ Superstar” so I wouldn”t turn him down. He did his homework as I was dying to see that musical in Boulder.” Kevin and Mary McNicholas were married in November of 1972 in a chapel in the Abbey at Benedictine College, Kevin”s alma mater. No one has ever been married there as the monks have an understanding with Atchison, KS archdiocese to keep weddings in those churches. But apparently Kevin developed his unassuming charm and people skills by the time he left college and was able to talk two Irish monks into sneaking Kevin and Mary into the chapel and married them on the Friday after Thanksgiving when no one was around. “It is still a great joke when we go back there as Kevin has served as the President of the Board and given speeches to the Business School and everyone laughs when they hear the story.” Over the years the McNicholas have been recognized often by their community for demonstrating character, good values and ethics, and caring and working with others without prejudice. It would be lengthy to list all, but remiss to exclude some of accolades that help define the amazing McNicholas family. A few recognitions included the Humanitarian Award from the American Ireland Fund that Kevin received with co-honoree Sen. George Mitchell, Daniel E. Ritchie “Colorado Ethics in Business Award”, and Induction into the Colorado Restaurant Association Hall of Fame. These awards can be traced back to Kevin”s simple and solid business philosophy of integrity exemplified by Kevin in 1997 when he formed K-M Concessions and made a “hand-shake” agreement with then Denver Broncos coach Lou Saban, and Denver Bears GM Jim Burris to sell programs, souvenirs, and provide catering in the press box. This hand-shake agreement lasted over two decades. He has since often reminded his staff, “A deal has got to be good for both parties; if not, you’ll only enter into it once.” and “Make your clients priorities your priorities” Mary has received The Art Reach Volunteer of the Year Award, and both Kevin and Mary were honored with the Distinguished Graduate Award by the National Catholic Education Association; Rocky Mountain MS Humanitarian Award; and last year the whole family received the 2008 Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti Defamation League as a tribute for donating scholarships for many students. The McNicholas schedule would be tiring for must people to look at, much less do. As the business expands around the country and they continue to answer their community”s call with genuine interest and down-home sense of humor. “My favorite, said Mary, “is when Kevin comes and helps us Christmas Carol at Assisted Living Homes and he imitates Miss Piggy”s “Five Golden Rings”

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