Yale Epstein was born to Harry and Bessie Epstein on June 24, 1919, near Toronto, Canada. He was born in Canada because his parents were temporarily working there but they soon returned to their own farm in Ohio. Yale grew up a farm boy but desired more than farm life.
During his high school years he became enamored with a young waitress named Mildred A. “Milly” Artman, who worked at a local cafe in Wayne, Ohio. He would stop by the cafe on a regular basis to visit her but due to a lack of money he would only order a glass of water and a toothpick.
Milly soon graduated from high school. At this point, in spite of the fact that Yale was still attending school, he wanted to marry her then and there, but she insisted he graduate from high school first.
Later on Milly’s sister, Lois, drove the couple across the state line to New Castle, Pennsylvania, and on Jan. 28, 1939, they were married. They would go on to have children Donald, Judy, Mary, Marla and Ralph.
In the early 1940s, Yale was working at a factory in Ohio, when he was drafted into the military. He served in the U.S. Navy for a couple of years as a radioman but never saw any action.
After the war ended, Yale returned home. Soon after, his son Donald came down with rheumatic fever, which resulted in heart problems and a doctor advised them to relocate to a dry climate.
Around 1947, the family headed to Arizona. It’s likely Yale chose Tucson over Phoenix because it was a smaller town.
According to their daughter Judy, at one point, after the family moved here, Yale and Milly had a barbecue stand at Old Tucson. This might have been during the filming of a movie there.
Soon after he arrived in town, Yale began working as a carpenter, then as a carpentry sub-contractor, which led him to start his own building firm called Yale Construction Co.
In 1952, Yale along with Charlie Wilson, Robert Lusk and Irv Buchman helped establish a new trade organization then known as the Tucson Home Builders Association.
In the early 1950s, Yale and Mildred obtained land on the northeast corner of East 22nd Street and South Wilmot Road. In January, 1953, Yale Epstein recorded the Yale Estates subdivision and Yale Drive with Pima County. Both the subdivision name and street name, according to developer and longtime friend John Wesley Miller, had dual meanings, deriving their names from Yale Epstein as well as Yale University.
He also recorded Amherst Drive, Baylor Drive, Colgate Drive, Duke Drive, Fordham Drive, Grinnell Avenue, Harvard Avenue, Kenyon Drive, Lehigh Drive, and Loyola Avenue after colleges and universities.
A few years later, the Miramonte Terrace subdivision, just east of Yale Estates, was recorded with Pima County by another developer. This developer decided to keep the same theme and recorded Georgetown Drive, Duquesne Drive, and Carnegie Drive.
Later on Oberlin Drive, New Hampshire Drive, Stanford Place, Princeton Drive, Douglas Street and Rudgers Place (later changed to Rutgers Place) were added to the Miramonte Terrace subdivision.
Mann Avenue and Eli Street are both believed to have been named in other subdivisions before Yale Estates and Miramonte Terrace were constructed.
In late 1954, Yale was elected vice president of the Tucson Home Builders Association for the years 1955 and 1956.
In August 1955, when Yale was asked if he would take the carpentry job for the new addition to the Tucson Nursery School, he offered to do it free of charge to help the school and his crew.
In late 1956, Yale was elected president of the Tucson Home Builders Association for the following year.
At some point before 1958, Yale built the 200-unit MCA (MCA) housing development at Fort Huachuca.
In 1961, the Tucson Home Builders Association changed its name to the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.
In 1971, Yale constructed a 40-home development near Drexel Road and the freeway.
Yale, whose company had changed its name to Y & M Enterprises Inc. constructed a solar home for the 1981 Parade of Homes event.
In 1985, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and Ponderosa Pools Inc. donated a pool to the Tucson Job Corps Center (now called Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center) and John Wesley Miller, then president of SAHBA, announced that the pool was being named in honor of Yale Epstein, who had worked with the Tucson Job Corps program for several years.
Yale would continue in the construction business until the early 1990s and then began doing home inspections for banks.
In 2006 he passed away and in 2009 the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association named its boardroom in honor of Yale Epstein.