Stephen Michael Yamin, Sr. passed away unexpectedly yet peacefully on November 26th, 2021 in his home. His last day was spent celebrating Thanksgiving with us, his beloved family, enjoying a feast prepared by our glorious and devoted mother, his wife of 55 years. This, his last day, was a perfect culmination of all that mattered to him…family, tradition, loyalty, laughter, shared meals and pure love. At the end of his flawless day, he laid down for a nap and woke up with our Heavenly Father.
Steve was 76 years old and was as feisty and fun as he was in his early years. Born in Shreveport, LA to Matilda ”Mimi” Faour Yamin & Joseph Yamin on August 13, 1945, he spent his early years between Shreveport and San Antonio, TX where he first met our mother. He attended Jesuit High School, was quarterback of the football team and boastfully reminded us often that he was “King of the Cotillion”, with a picture to prove it. He grew up in a family-filled home surrounded constantly by siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents including his Papa who he greatly admired and whose name he proudly embraced and adopted as his own when he later became a grandfather.
At 18 years of age he joined the Army Reserves and at 20 he married the girl of his dreams, Mary Ann Jowdy, who had a crush on him from the moment she laid eyes on him in grade school. On June 24, 1966 in San Antonio, they started their journey. They moved to Houston on the night they were married, and their first celebration was mom’s 20th birthday 3 days later. Their life story began.
Within a year they were pregnant with twins Gina and Lisa who were born on his birthday, August 13th the following year. It was a great privilege to share birthdays and to collect 54 years of photographs, blowing out candles together. Six years later, Stephen Michael Yamin, Jr. was born, completing the family and named to carry his legacy. Our family unit was solid and Dad led the charge. Together always - in a very lively and loving home, rooted in moral fibers that were purposefully weaved with home-cooked family meals, Sunday masses, holidays steeped in tradition, laughter, singing, dancing and “forced family fun” with constant love and support abound.
During Steve’s early years in Houston, he was a hard-working restaurateur. He built Yamin’s which grew into a chain of restaurants with a flair for pizza and po-boys and a brand that many remember as second to none. He later dipped his hand in manufacturing a marinara sauce called Mama Rizzo’s, affectionately named after our maternal grandmother’s family name. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to and through other business ventures. But when he landed in the oil and pipe business, he had found his niche. He retired Yamin Oil Supply during the 80’s downturn, but ultimately came back to that very niche, where he worked tirelessly and with great pride having his son working by his side throughout later years. His fierce devotion and commitment to provide for his family never wavered. And it was just that – his family – which kept him diligent in his pursuit of performance. He was industrious, strong-willed, determined and persevered through the lucky uptimes and through economic downfalls. He was a fighter.
Golf was his lifelong hobby. Some days, he would say, “I’m the greatest golfer of all time”, and others he would laugh and say, “I’ve lost my game, I’m never picking up a club again”. These last several years, he spent nearly all weekends, and many weekdays, playing with his Galveston buddies who were near and dear to his heart– almost like a fraternity. It brought him great pleasure to banter (and no doubt, wager) with his golf buds, all of whom he endeared and about whom he spoke so highly. Galveston Country Club became his spot, although they traveled and played all over. He was a shining star. His custom bag was borderline obnoxious with his signature stamped on it. That, coupled with his outrageous and colorful attire with oftentimes matching shoes and hats, perfectly aligns with his dynamic and electric persona. He was recently invited to join the Artillery Club in Galveston, the oldest private social club west of the Mississipi, which he proudly accepted with grace.
Our father was many things to many people. But it is very difficult to find the words that adequately describe the relationship between him and our mother. His Lebanese heritage coupled with her Italian blood set the tone for fun-loving joking and jeering that was so often sarcastic and hilarious. But beneath that surface was a deep-rooted, old-fashioned love, honor and respect that is so rarely seen anymore. He took care of her from the time she was 18 and she returned that love with nurture and care every single day without fail. They jitterbugged and waltzed, laughed and cried, traveled, gossiped, ate, drank and loved their way through life, setting a marital example for us that we could only aspire to have. They woke up together at 5am to have coffee and chit chat for hours. And they had dinner together almost every night of the week, mostly just the two of them, unless it was a family dinner with us. She dialed his number at least 50 times a day to check in or ask a quick question. He was her world. And she, his. It was a life-long love affair that started the moment they met and lasted until he took his last deep breath in bed by her side.
Stephen Michael Yamin, Sr, our loving father, was our star. He is survived by Mary Ann, his three children, Gina (and son-in-law Kelley Erwin), Lisa (and son-in-law Michael Holthouse), Stephen Jr., and his three doting grandchildren Pia Tolomei, Addy Purdy and Hudson Holthouse who miss their Papa tremendously and upon whom he has left an indelible mark. He is further survived by a loving and growing extended family including Courtney and Tommy Erwin, as well as countless Yamin, Jowdy, Faour and Rizzo relatives. He had the privilege of attending his mother’s 100th birthday celebration earlier this year, who has also survived him along with his sister Carole Yamin, his brother Philip Yamin, and his brother-in-law Johnny Jowdy.
The family is having a private morning service, followed by a gathering of friends Thursday December 2nd from 12p-2pm at The Texas Liberty Mausoleum Chapel at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway, Houston,, TX 77079.
We kindly ask you not to send flowers. Your friendship and words of encouragement through letters are all that matter. We take them to heart and it keeps us living on his behalf.
“To be absent from the body is to be home with the Lord.”