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Adele and Bill Malley
Living the Sweet Life

Update June 2014

Bill and Adele Malley are retired and no longer have any responsibilities at Malley’s Chocolates.

As Adele told us, "Our children are operating our “baby” or seventh child (Malley’s Chocolates) and doing just a very fine job of it". Their son Michael is the new Chairman of Malley’s Chocolates.

They continue to stay busy and enjoy life. Bill just completed a course in finances at University of South Florida. Adele is writing a book about customer enhancements. "I am having so much fun doing it and meeting very interesting people!" she said.

Below is their profile from 2004.

When you meet Bill and Adele Malley you experience certain sensations right off the bat. You can't help but smile back in response to their wide grins and welcoming handshake. You feel at ease as they sit back and talk as if they've known you forever. You are interested because they tell such an interesting story.

Oh yes, and did I mention the entire building smells like chocolate?

Adele is now the President of Malley's Chocolates and Bill is the Chairman. Together with their family and the strong support of happy employees they run the fourteen stores that grew from a small business that Bill's father, Mike, started back in 1935. This is their story.

Bill was born on June 6, 1931 in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He grew up working in the family business and, like his father, took great pride in keeping the customers satisfied and entertained.

Until 1939 he lived right behind the store. He is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and Miami University, where he earned a Degree in Marketing.

Adele Ryan Malley was born February 21, 1937 right here in Cleveland. She too worked in her family's business, but in her case it was the meat business.

She is a graduate of St. Augustine and Immaculate Jr. College, in Washington D.C. She also took classes in teaching at John Roberts Powers in New York.

They met at a party when Bill gallantly cut in on Adele's dance partner. They started dating immediately and were married a year later, October 3, 1959. They now have six children, three in the business and three pursuing other careers.

They also have eight grandchildren, the oldest of which is now ten. Just like their grandfather, they love to be around the stores and of course, bring the school classes in for a tour.

Bill Malley at his desk

Although Bill officially retied at age 66, he is still active and plans to be forever. "How can I every retire from Malley's Chocolates - I have chocolate in my veins?!"

The business has always been family owned and operated, a practice that will continue when son, Dan, takes over the reins as President in the very near future.

"As you get older you get a little more conservative and a little less likely to change. New thoughts and fresh ideas are important to the business and Dan will bring that. Plus my children have so much more energy, it's exciting to watch."

Adele with the numbers

It is Adele's lilting voice you hear in the wonderful Malley's advertisements; she has a way of making you taste the chocolates, just by her description and pleasant voice.

Bill and Adele feel a sense of joy when they look around their stores on a busy day and see their children working at the same goal they worked for - making the customer happy.

The children all started out in the business, much as Bill did. When they were very young they would bag Easter grass for a penny a bag. Bill would close the North Olmsted Store every night at 11:30. He'd often bring the children along and they'd not only get to have a sundae, but they would make their own.

"It was a magical time. That's the store with the beautiful carousel and we'd sit there in the dark with only the glow of the carousel light - what happy memories I have". As the kids grew older the boys became soda jerks and the girls waitresses.

Malleys Chocolate store

In 1949 when the Madison Avenue store first opened, the Lakewood police had to be called in to direct traffic.

Now, over 50 years later, every Valentine's Day and Sweetest Day you can hear the traffic copters telling you to expect delays at Brookpark and 134th because of the long lines for their famous chocolate covered strawberries.

They now boast 8 drive thru lanes for the purchase of nothing but strawberries - two full semis worth of strawberries were delivered for the 2002 Valentine's Day event.

The Malley's are also very interested in sharing their good fortune with the community. Bill is (or has been) a member of the Board of Directors of numerous associations including the Council of Smaller Enterprises, The Greater Cleveland Growth Association, Beck Center for the Cultural Arts and MetroHealth Hospital Foundation. He was named the St. Ignatius alumnus of the year in 1998.

Adele Malley and worker at Malley's Chocolates

Adele serves on a number of boards as well, including John Carroll University's Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurs, United Way, Council of Smaller Enterprises and St. John West Shore Hospital.

Bill also plays a strategic role in keeping alive the true meaning of Sweetest Day. Sweetest Day was started in Cleveland to bring candy and sweets to veterans in veteran's homes and to the children in orphanages.

Bill remembers Theda Bara performing on stage here in Cleveland and coming down from the stage to hand out chocolates to the patrons.

Bill is actively trying to keep that happening. Currently he and a group of other chocolatiers, provide candy to forty different facilities such as the Veteran's Hospital, Parmadale and the Berea Children's Home. He's hoping the original spirit will catch on again, but there are not as many people around to give.

Both Bill and Adele have also been justifiably honored by a number of associations. Cleveland Magazine included Adele as one of the "29 Most Influential Women In Cleveland" and they were both inducted into the very first Business Hall of Fame.

There's always something new going on at Malley's Chocolates and this year's main attraction will be "Sweet Memories".

Christmas at Malleys Chocolates

The Brookpark store (where the tours are held) will be paying homage to the glory days of Cleveland by recreating some of our favorite memories.

They are going to bring in the largest Christmas tree they can find, to emulate the wonderful Sterling Linder tree.

Adele Malley with Christmas display

The tour area will be decorated with the store windows we remember as children and will be crafted by the same masters who did those memorable old displays.

The designers from Halle Bros., May Company, Taylors and the Higbee Company will create eighteen masterpieces of nostalgic toys, dolls, trains, books, etc. All in all it promises to be a delightful trip down memory lane at Malley's Chocolates this Christmastime.

Bill Malley at desk

The life of Bill and Adele Malley revolves around chocolate, there's no doubt. But they have managed to work in some wonderful trips to places such as New Zealand and Australia. They often go to Florida in the winter (but not until after Easter of course) and love the Seattle area.

For the last five years they have taken a group of people on tours to Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Scandinavia and most recently, Paris. Next year they plan on visiting England and Scotland.

Adele and Bill Malley are sincere, sweet people in a sweet business. As you walk through the store, the factory workers greet them like friends and they respond in kind. They have a smile and a kind word for everyone.

Bill and Adele Malley

The sensations of goodwill you feel when you first meet Bill and Adele stays true the entire time you are talking.

And the sweet scent of chocolate never fades either.

Profiled by Debbie Hanson

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