Arthur Epstein, beloved Marblehead benefactor, dies at 86

The Marblehead community is lamenting the loss of Arthur Joseph Epstein, a business executive, philanthropist and all-around mensch who leaves behind a legacy of transformative contributions to mental and behavioral health care and Jewish education on the North Shore. Epstein died on May 21. He was 86. 

Arthur Epstein in front of Epstein Hillel School in 2017 shortly after the school was renamed in his honor. COURTESY PHOTO / EPSTEIN HILLEL SCHOOL 

Hailing from Malden, Epstein grew up to become a successful entrepreneur and investor, becoming the second-largest franchise owner in the country. He and his late wife, Eunice, were high school sweethearts and raised their three children in Marblehead. They resided in the town for 50 years.

Epstein bought his first Midas Muffler tire shop in 1965, eventually holding 30 locations throughout New England. He was also a partner in the real estate firm Cres Development. 

The “Epstein” in Epstein Hillel School recognizes his $5 million donation to the Marblehead school in 2017. 

“That summer, Cohen Hillel Academy was rededicated as the Arthur J. Epstein Hillel School in recognition of Arthur’s donation and as a tribute to his commitment, generosity and faith in the future of EHS,” the school wrote in a Facebook post. “We extend our deepest condolences to the entire Epstein family and to all those whose lives were touched by Arthur.” 

Epstein also donated $5 million to Salem Hospital, the medical center’s largest single donation in its 144-year history. 

“Arthur embodied the very best of men, giving so generously of his time, warmth and resources,” said Roxanne Ruppel, president and chief operating officer of Salem Hospital, on May 25. “His support for mental health services in this community has been transformational and is saving lives and comforting families every day of the year.” 

The financial support paved the way for The Epstein Center for Behavioral Health, a 120-bed unit caring for adults and children. He directed his wealth toward the hospital in memory of his wife because she suffered from bipolar disorder for most of her adult life, according to Epstein’s obituary. 

“Many families face mental health or addiction issues, and they often struggle to find high-quality care,” Epstein said on the occasion of the $5 million donation. “I’m proud to support North Shore Medical Center’s efforts to address this dire need in our health care system, and I’m grateful that North Shore families will have a place to go where they are assured their loved ones will receive excellent care.”

He saw giving one’s wealth as obligatory, he told Massachusetts General Hospital for a profile about his donation to Salem Hospital

“If people have a certain amount of success, they have an obligation to give back, in many forms,” Epstein said. “There’s so much out there that people need help with.” 

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1 Comment

  • Biff Michaud

    I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend Arthur. He lived his life in selflessly helping others and his efforts and philanthropy will have an affect on our communities for generations. Arthur’s life was filled with dignity, grace, family and friends, of which I was privileged to be one. Soft spoken by nature, Arthur wore his wealth like an old coat, never a braggart just knowing his life was well lived. I want his family to know that I care…he was quite a guy!!

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