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Max & Ida Rosenzweig Epstein Family

Photos and articles courtesy of Meyer Denn & Ken Rosenzweig

Max Epstein

Mr. Max Epstein died here Sunday. Burial was in Beth El Cemetery in Houston, Texas. He is survived by his wife, Ida; daughter, Geraldine; two sons, Lester and Melvin; two sisters, Mrs. Jesse Rubenstein and Mrs. L. S. Cohen and brother, Sam Epstein.

Matagorda County Tribune, October 4, 1945

Max Epstein
March 21, 1896 - September 30, 1945


Ida Sarah Rosenzweig Epstein
August 15, 1898 - March 26, 1975

Buried Beth Yeshurun-Post Oak, Houston, TX


Simon Bros. Store Front on left side of the picture where Rosenzweig's was first located.
Photo courtesy of Haskell Simon

Simon Bros. and Rosenzweig's store front in 2012.

The Rosenzweig Story...Flood Here 20 Years Ago Caused Epstein Family to Establish Store

Floods usually are not welcome anywhere at anytime, but the Epstein family of Bay City has a rather warm feeling for one particular flood that inundated Bay City more than 20 years ago.

The flood was indirectly responsible for their move here from Kingsville and the establishment of Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe.

The memory of the flood is perhaps more vivid in their minds this week than any other time of the year. They are celebrating their twentieth anniversary here this week.

Melvin is Manager

Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe are jointly owned by Mrs. Ida Epstein and her sons, Melvin and Lester. Lester, at present, is in New York on store business. Melvin is currently managing the stores.

Rosenzweig's is named for Mrs. Epstein's father, Harry Rosenzweig, of Fort Bend County. Mr. Rosenzweig told his eight children that he would help each of them set up in business. Seven of the eight entered business and each named his or her store "Rosenzweig's" in honor of their father.

Mrs. Epstein first opened a department store in Kingsville. Max Epstein, her husband, traveled the coast from Houston to the Valley for a Houston dry goods firm.

Marooned Here

And it was while he was entrained from Kingsville to Houston that the flood "marooned" him here. After only a brief look around, Mr. Epstein immediately began negotiations for the move here.

Milady's Shoppe joined Rosenzweig's "family" shortly before World War II.

Mr. Epstein died in 1945 but the store has been carried on by Mrs. Epstein, Melvin and Lester.

A lot of credit for the store's success here must go to Mrs. Randolph Cox and Leon Guzick, said Manager Melvin. Mrs. Cox has been with the store since its opening. Mr. Guzick manages the men's department of the store.

10-12 Market Trips

Ten to 12 trips yearly are made by the Epsteins to Dallas, California and New York in search of the latest fashions and styles.

A famous buying office in New York is retained by the Epsteins to keep their eye on the eastern market.

Melvin joined Rosenzweig's staff after his graduation from the University of Houston three years ago. Lester, a University of Texas graduate, came to the store in 1946 after his release from service.

Many of Bay City's fashion-minded women depend on Milady's Shoppe to keep them well dressed.

"It's definitely a challenge buying clothes that we think will appeal to women here," said Melvin, adding:

"But it's a lot of fun, too!"


Rosenzweig Family 1919

The Bay City Rosenzweig's store was named for Harry Rosenzweig who was the father-in-law and partner of Max Epstein.

Harry Rosenzweig is seated in the picture above with his wife standing on his left. Max and Ida Rosenzweig Epstein are standing behind Mr. Rosenzweig.


8th Street
Avenue F Avenue G
  7th Street

Mr. Max Epstein, who celebrates the formal opening of the new Rosenzweig's Store here Friday night from the hours of 8:00 to 9:30. Mr. Epstein, manager of the Rosenzweig's Store here, has spared no expense in making of the new store one of the most attractive and modern in the state. Coming to the city several years ago, Mr. Epstein has shown a constant growth in his store activities and now he gives to the city a new and beautiful department store. A cordial invitation is issued all to attend the opening Friday night.

Rosenzweig's Announced Formal Opening Friday Night
One of the Most Modern Stores in South Texas Will Hold Open House; First in City to Install Air Conditioning

Mr. Max Epstein, manager of Rosenzweig's of Bay City, and Mrs. Epstein, with the many department heads and clerks in the city's newest and most modern store, will be hosts Friday night to hundreds who will come to see the new Rosenzweig's Store on Seventh Street. Mr. Epstein has spared no expense in any department in his modern dry goods store and from the front, the rear and all fixtures as well as thousands of dollars in new merchandise, have been brought to make of it one of the most complete and modern department stores in the state.

There will be no merchandise sold Friday night but souvenirs will be presented to those attending the opening and the store will be so arranged that those visiting will meet the clerks, the various heads of each department and will be given an idea of the complete stock of merchandise handled in this establishment. Nationally advertised merchandise is featured.

Feeling the growing need and almost necessity of air conditioning in most all modern establishments, Mr. Epstein has also installed air conditioning in the new building. This has not been completed as yet but is nearing completion and will be ready within a very short while.

Most modern of fixtures have been installed, a light shade of wood being used. The store is conveniently arranged in two major departments, a department for the men and for the women's wear. A complete shoe department with modern shoe fitting equipment will greet the customers. An infant's department has been arranged to please the children as well as to offer the best in infants' and children's wear.

Mrs. C. R. Cox, for many years employed with Rosenzweig's, is merchandise and credit manager, while Miss Gussie McDaniels is head of the ready-to-wear and lingerie department. Mrs. Parks is millinery department head and also connected with the ready-to-wear department. The infants' department, corset department and household goods are under the direction of Mrs. A. L. Clark, while Mrs. Ima Hood is department head of the piece goods and notions departments. Mrs. H. Alexander is in charge of the alteration department. Miss Bobbie Sherrer is cashier and Mrs. Audrell White is bookkeeper.

In the men's department, Mr. Leon Guzick and Mrs. George Wilson head the shoe departments and the men's clothing departments. Mr. Harry Welch is advertising manager and window decorator.

With but one or two exceptions, all of the employees are local people.

Daily Tribune, Thursday, May 6, 1937

Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

Rosenzweig Had Vision of Bay City's Growth
Established Store of Which Any Community Might Well Be Proud

With a vision of becoming a vital and integral part of the finest community in the state of Texas, Rosenweig's came to Bay City in 1931, and, after careful planning, established a store here under the management of Max Epstein that is an establishment of which any town of larger size than Bay City can well  be proud.

That their faith and belief in Bay City was not wrong and that their vision of a bigger and better Bay City is being rapidly realized is evidenced by the fact that shortly after they had established themselves here it became necessary to move into larger quarters; quarters which they today occupy with one of the most modern and up-to-date department stores to be found in any part of the country.

Rosenzweig's itself is a Texas institution, having been organized in Richmond, Texas, in 1901. Their Bay City store is the first store of its kind in South Texas to use light color scheme of fixtures which tend to greatly relieve what might otherwise be a rather gloomy atmosphere.

In accordance with their desire to make this store one of the most modern and well equipped of any store in this section of the state they have gone even farther than that. Theirs is the only store of its size, according to Mr. Epstein, in any town the size of Bay City, or twice its size in the entire south that is air-conditioned.

They carry only standard brand of merchandise such as will be found only in the first class stores of the larger cities. Such lines as Florsheim, Frank Jarman, Friendly Five and Fortune Shoes for men; hats by Stetson, Mallory and Byer-Rolnik; Arrow, Shirtcraft and Elder shirts for men; Peter Pan, Marcy Lee and Lyn-Brook dresses for ladies; coats and suits by Hollymode and Justmoor for ladies and Kirschbaum, Michnels-Stern, Curlee and Rose suits for men. These are just a few of the many lines of first-grade standard articles carried by this modern and up-to-date store.

"We have an organization," said Mr. Epstein in speaking of his personnel, "of which any store could be proud. We believe we have a right to boast of their courtesy and efficiency and they take a real pleasure in waiting on our customers. They know the stock and are able to make pertinent and valuable suggestions whenever the customer is in doubt as to just which article would be the most appropriate. It is the desire of the entire organization that we be of service to the public over a period of time rather to make the immediate sale regardless of later consequences."

In addition to Mr. Epstein, general manager of the store, there are several employees necessary to attend to the proper functioning of such a large establishment. Among them are:

Mrs. C. R. Cox, general manager of the piece goods and ladies departments. Mrs. Cox is a graduate of Bay City schools and has had 10 years experience in her line of work.

Mrs. Clyde Parks, manager of the ladies ready-to-wear department, has had 25 years experience in her line and is amply qualified to hold a position of such responsibility.

Mrs. Ima Hood heads the piece goods department and she was also raised in Bay City and has several years experience in her line of work.

Miss Gussie McDaniels, formerly of Rockdale, Texas, has charge of the ladies' underwear, millinery and dress accessories department.

Mrs. A. L. Clark, who was raised in Bay City, has charge of the infant's and children's department which consists of underwear, dresses and gifts. She is qualified to make really valuable suggestions to those who are not definitely decided upon the articles of their choice.

Miss Bobbie Sherrer has charge of the hoisery, notions and pattern departments. She is also a Bay City girl and received her schooling in the city.

Mrs. Audriel White is bookkeeper and auditor and Miss Merry Adams is cashier and checker. These two comprise the office force.

The men's clothing department is headed by George Williams who was born and raised in this county and whose personality and friendly assistance to those who are looking for something but are not sure as to just what it is has made him a world of friends throughout the county. He is well-liked and very popular with all of the regular customers and many requests his services when making purchases.

Leon Guzick came to the store shortly after it opened, as head of the men's shoe department and also assists in the display advertising and window trimming. He came here from Sherman, Texas.

Louis Hagerman acts as salesman in the men's department and assists in the buying of men's furnishing goods.

Nearly all of the employees have been with the store almost since its opening and all take an interest in seeing that it functions in accordance with the desire of the company as a medium of service to the community. It is with that idea in mind that practically everything pertaining to the operation of the store is done and each member of the staff are always eager and willing to be of assistance in any way possible that will help the customer. It is their boast that once a person has seen their service, courtesy and willingness to aid that person is a regular customer.

Matagorda County Tribune, Century of Progress Edition, August 10, 1937

Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

ROSENZWEIG'S broad front is the most spacious in the city. The show windows are wide and provide ample space for gracious arrangements of goods in season, decorative motifs being the work of Mr. Leon Guzick. The right side is devoted to ladies' and girls' clothing with household furnishings in season, while on the left are handsome displays of men's and boys' apparel.

Emporium Offers Ideal Shopping Conditions
Two Great Stores, Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe, Under One Management
Max and Ida Epstein Collaborate In Department Store Venture, Serving In Matagorda County Since 1931

Amid an air of quiet elegance, shoppers at Bay City's leading department store, Rosenzweig's, examine stock offered and make selections in comfort, attended by courteous, well trained salespeople, many of whom have been so long with the company that they are like old friends to the shoppers not only of the city but of the county and entire surrounds.

Since 1931

Rosenzweig's first opened its doors in Bay City in November, 1931. The name itself is memorial, perpetuating the great department store business begun in 1901 in Fort Bend county by Harry Rosenzweig, father of Mrs. Max Epstein who collaborates with her husband in the operation of two great mercantile extablishments in this city, Mr. Epstein heading Rosenzweig's and Mrs. Epstein Milady's Shoppe, fashionable ladies' ready-to-wear shop adjoining Rosenzweig's.

Rosenzweig's has become an institution on 7th St. between between Avenue F and Avenue G. Its first location was "about 100 yards west of the present site," to quote Mr. Epstein. He opened first in a fifty-foot front that has been a cleaner's establishment, a shoe shop and a grocery store until the fire of May 26, 1945.

Early in 1937, a change to the present location seemed practical and on May 7, 1937, the Daily Tribune ran the following story: [see article]

The following day, the Tribune read:

"Bay City's newest department store held its formal opening last night and hundreds came to visit and inspect. Vases of flowers from fellow business men, from out-of-town concerns and many friends, decorated the new and modern establishment. Mr. and Mrs. Max Epstein, hosts, carried the visitors through the many departments of the store."

After Four Years

Life flowed along for the next four years, 1937 to 1941, during which time Mrs. Epstein, daughter of a department store head, wife of such a one and with the charm of the business in her blood, dreamed of opening "the prettiest ladies' shop in south Texas."

Plans were made and considered, revised and changed, made more and more elaborate and detailed until another opening was on the business calendar of Bay City. This was in September of 1941.

Again let the Matagorda County Tribune speak:

"Miss Hazel Burton of Okmulgee, Okla., has been named as manager of the new Milady's Shoppe, located on the north side of the square between Rosenzweig's and Taylor Brothers, which will be opened this week. Miss Burton is an experienced ladies' ready-to-wear executive having spent sixteen years associated with that type of business.

"Before coming to Bay City, Miss Burton was manager of a similar shop in Okmulgee and has had connections with this type of work in many large cities. She is an experienced buyer and is familiar with the various lines and styles of her trade, having dealt extensively with the ladies' ready-to-wear markets in New York, Chicago and St. Louis.

"The new dress shop which Miss Burton will manage is one of the most modern establishments of its kind in Texas. The interior is done in modern design with classic appointments including deep pile carpeting, complete air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting. The woodwork and display counters are made and finished in handsome magnolia and the entire building is laid out along modern lines.

The windows for displaying the shop's wares are particularly attractive and are decorated in classic black, with handsome black carpets and rich black velvet drapes. The new mannequins, which will be used to display models, will hold the center of the spotlighted window.

"The new shop will have four handsome dressing rooms for trying on and fitting garments, equipped with triple mirrors."

So Milady's Shoppe was born and it continues to be the ultra modern ladies' ready-to-wear establishment of Bay City. It is under the personal supervision of Mrs. Epstein whose charming personality is one of its greatest assets.

MODERN SHOW WINDOWS of Milady's Shoppe display the latest creations in ladies' summer dresses with hats, bags, gloves, and other accessories. The displays are restrained and in the best of taste, handsome mannequins modeling colorful ensembles before black velvet hangings. Lighting in the evening in artistic and at times spectacular. Mrs. Max Epstein heads Milady's Shoppe.

SUAVE, ELEGANT, LUXURIOUS is the interior of Milady's Shoppe, fluorescent lighting bringing out the soft neutral tones of walls and deep pile carpets. Handsome accessories may be found at the left and a high grade of women's apparel at the right. Customers shop in air-conditioned comfort and find three modern fitting rooms at the ready. Mrs. Epstein and a force of trained and skilled sales ladies assist customers in selections and fittings.

Models From Eastern Markets

The proprietors of Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe state, "We specialize in standard lines and brands. We contact the markets through personal trips three or four times each year to see new styles and values as they appear. This means that our stock is always fresh and up-to-date. The styles shown in our stores are the styles being shown on Fifth Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard."

Throughout the store, standard lines are in stock. A few such lines in ladies' wear are Fred A. Block, Carlye, Paul Sachs, Frances Dexter, Doris Dodson, L'Aiglon, Carol King, Kay Dunhill, Knox hats, Vanity Fair underwear and many others.

In ladies' shoes, patrons find Selby Styl-eez, Gold Cross, Tweedies Parish Fashion and other equally well known.

On the men's side of the House of Epstein may be found Florsheim and Jarman shoes, Dobbs hats, Stetson hats; Arrow shirts, ties, underwear and handkerchiefs; Nor East ties; Holeproof socks; Michael Stern suits; Tom Sawyer boys' clothing and Resistol hats, the last made in Texas in one of the largest and finest hat factories in the nation, these lines among others of national reputation.

More Than Forty Years

The name, Rosenzweig, has been a part of Texas history since 1901 when Mr. Harry Rosenzweig arrived in Richmond, Fort Bend county. An emigrant youth of 24 years, he had sailed past the Statue of Liberty and crossed the many miles to Texas, joining in Richmond an uncle, Mr. M. Schiff. It was in Richmond that he opened his first store on a very small scale. The following year be brought his family, a wife and two children, to Texas and as his business prospered he became financially interested in other stores until at the time of his death in August, 1935, he was interested in four large stores, one in Rosenberg, two in Goose Creek and the one in Bay City.

ROSENZWEIG'S men's department is shown here. At the right a customer selects ties, belts, shirts, other accessories for the well dressed man. On the middle floor are display counters for assorted details of men's apparel, while suits are displayed at the left. Beneath the mezzanine is the modern shoe department. The left mezzanine where are the offices and behind which is the remodeling room may be seen here clearly. The store is air-conditioned.

LADIES' SECTION of Rosenzweig's is shown here with its showcases and piece goods displays at the front left, the display counters in the middle and dress exhibits at the right. Back of the cashier's desk, center left, may be found the hosiery department and on the right mezzanine is the infant's wear department. The offices are on the left mezzanine, below which is the men's department. Note the modern fluorescent lighting fixtures.

A Native Texan

Mr. Max Epstein is a native Texas, born in Brenham, Washington county, in 1896, son of Meyer and Lena Epstein. The family moved to Houston in 1896 and made its home there until 1919.

Max Epstein's first business venture was in Richmond in 1919 and 1920. From 1920 until 1931, he was in business in Kingsville and from that year to the present, he has lent every effort to offering Bay City and Matagorda county the best and most modern in department store service.

Mr. and Mrs. Epstein look back to 1918 as their wedding year and Houston as the city where their vows were taken.

They have to sons, Lester and Melvin, and one daughter, Gera Lee.

They Have Built Well

Asked about the men and women who made up the large personnel at Rosenzweig's, Mr. Epstein says, "They are a magnificent group of people. It is through the efforts of every one that our business here has succeeded. Our appreciation to each and every one knows no limits."

Four of the group have been with Rosenzweig's since they opened here in 1931: Mrs. Randolph Cox, Mrs. Clyde Parks, Mr. George Williams and Mr. Leon Guzick.

Others who have been associated with Rosenzweig's up to five years are:

Mrs. Margaret Carter
Miss Bessie Green
Mrs. Jeannette Highley
Miss Gussie McDaniels
Mrs. Johnnie Miller
Mrs. Rosina Ottis
Mrs. G. Sherrill
Miss Nora Vandiver
Mrs. Hazel Waters
Miss Miriam Dombrow
Mrs. Esther Rickaway
Miss Iva Izella Dooley
Mrs. Florene Hayes
Mrs. Della Hite
Mr. Gus Silberisen
Mr. E. A. Freeman
Mrs. Eddie Henderson, bookkeeper
Ethel Mae Miller, Lucille Jones, maids
Mike Garcia, porter

Matagorda County Tribune, 100th Anniversary Edition, August 23, 1945



Melvin & Renee Lewis Epstein Family


Melvin Epstein Family

On June 5, 1949, Melvin Epstein and Renee Lewis, daughter of Fannye and Max Lewis of Boling, were united in marriage at the Wharton Community Center with Rabbi Robert I. Kahn of Temple Emmanu El in Houston performing the ceremony. Twenty-five years later Melvin and Renee repeated their vows with Rabbi Kahn officiating in the sanctuary of Temple Emmanu El.


There were four children of this marriage:

Max Lewis was born on August 4, 1951, at Rugeley-Blasingame Hospital in Wharton. Max attended Dartmouth College, Vienna Academy of Music, and Northwestern University.  In 1984 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York.


Jane Frances was born in Bay City. She attended the University of Texas and received her Doctorate Degree in Psychology from Tulane University.


Robert Andrew was born in Houston. He received his Bachelors degree from The University of Texas and his Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.


Betty Ann was born in Houston. She attended Southwest Texas State University.


Melvin Epstein’s first address in 1926 was 1507 Drew Street, Houston, Texas. From there the family moved to Kingsville and then to Bay City in 1931. The Epstein’s lived first in rooms rented from Mr. and Mrs. R. O. Kiser located at 1407 Seventh Street. Later the family rented homes at 1304 Sixth Street and Cottonwood at Fifth Street. In 1939 the Hite brothers built the Epstein home at 2900 Sixth Street.


Melvin attended Mrs. Blair’s kindergarten, Jefferson Davis Grammar School, Texas Military Institute, 1940-1941, and graduated from Bay City High School in 1943. He attended The University of Texas and the University of Houston, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in January, 1948.


After their marriage in June of 1949, Renee and Melvin rented an apartment at 1010 Eighth Street from Ken Horton and later a house at 2412 Eighth Street from Esther Goldman. In 1953 they moved to 2900 Sixth Street and rented that home for seventeen years. Melvin, Renee and their family moved into their first owned home at 1921 Linda Lane in May, 1970.


Melvin was active in the Rotary Club with over twenty-five years of perfect attendance, and was also instrumental in the organization of the Festival Arts Association in 1980, in which, in 1986, he remained an active participant. During his tenure in the above, he served as president of both of these organizations. He also served as director on the Western Gulf Financial Board, served on the Industrial Foundation, and was a sponsor of the Interact Club. In addition he served for ten years as superintendent of Sunday Schools at Shearith Israel Congregation, Wharton, Texas.


Renee was a partner with Melvin in business and family life. She was graduated from Boling High School in 1944, and attended The University of Texas. She served as director for Festival Arts Association and was a member of the Junior Service League. Renee’s grandfather, Morris Cohen Levine was an early settler in Wharton County. Morris and Minnie Levine arrived in Glen Flora by covered wagon in 1889, and Morris Levine was one of the eleven founders of Shearith Israel Congregation in 1910. Their daughter, Fannye, was born in Wharton on September 13, 1895, and married Max Lewis, who was born in Riga, Latvia, on June 18, 1889. Fannye died on November 16, 1950, and Max died on March 30, 1954. They were buried in Wharton at Sheareth Israel Cemetery.

Melvin Epstein - 1984

Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, pp 146-147                    Typed for this page by Faye Cunningham.

Rosenzweig's - Clothes, Inc. Building in 2012


2013 Site of Milady's


Matagorda County Tribune, August 23, 1956

Matagorda County Tribune, September 13, 1956

1965-66 Directory Ad

Personnel Chosen For The New Teen Shop Here

Melvin Epstein has told this paper that he has secured the services of Mrs. John Kershaw, Mrs. Tom Burchfield and Mrs. W. E. Cook for the Teen Shop which will open this week.

Mrs. Kershaw will be a newcomer to Bay City but she has had experience in the merchandising field.

Mrs. Tom Burchfield is well known here in Bay City in the field of fashion. She will certainly be able to help girls with their selections in planning a wardrobe with her vast experience in ready-to-wear to back her up. Mrs. Burchfield will be in the shop in the afternoons and on Saturdays.

Mrs. W. E. Cook, is new to working in ready-to-wear but with a teen-age daughter in school now she certainly will be on the ground floor to better understand the likes of all the girls.

These ladies will be on hand at the teen shop to aid and assist the girls in every way with their selections. Don't miss the opening of The Teen Shop. Go by late this week to see the shop and meet the ladies who will be employed there.

Matagorda County Tribune, August 23, 1956



Clothes, Inc. Closing Its Doors
Fifty-Seven Years in Bay City

By Jan Aikens

It's the end of an era. After 57 years of service to the Bay City community, Clothes, Inc. will soon close its doors forever.

The current owners, Melvin and Renee Epstein, have decided that that the time has come for them to retire and enjoy the activities they have put on their "someday list" for many years.

"Its the time in our lives for us to retire," said Renee. "Melvin has wanted to retire for a couple of years, but it has been me who has delayed it."

The store will be closed the first part of the week to prepare for the liquidation sale or "retirement sale" as the Epsteins prefer to call it, which will begin Thursday.

The decision wasn't an easy one for the Epsteins whose roots run deep in Bay City and Matagorda County. They didn't tell their vendors until last week because "it is so hard to say goodbye," said Renee who is originally from Boling.

This family-owned store was founded by Melvin's father, Max Epstein, in 19312. The Great Depression was in progress and the economy was poor in Kingsville where his father and another man co-owned a shoe business. Max was on his way to Houston to discuss his future with his wife's parents, Libby and Harry Rosenzweig, when the train developed mechanical problems in Bay City.

His father visited several retailers in town, including Aaron and Sonia Simon, parents of Haskell Simon, and Freda Simon, mother of the late Moise Simon. Their business, Simon Brothers, was for sale and Max and his father-in-law and partner, Harry Rosenzweig, purchased the store. The store was renamed Rosenzweig's and was located at 1717 Seventh St., the location of the former Conspiracy Restaurant [Fatgrass Restaurant in 2013].

During the early years, the store was referred to as a junior department store. Featured were clothing items for everyone in the family and a budget clothing department.

"I remember the ladies working in the store had to wear black, brown or navy blue clothes with sleeves in their blouses or dresses. They also wore hats when they left the store," said Melvin. "Our store hours were from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. We were open six days a week."

In 1937 the store moved its location to the present site. Fixtures were purchased from Brochsteins's of Houston and Rosenzweig's and the newly-opened Milady's Shoppe, an exclusive women's store located next door, became the first air conditioned stores between Houston and Corpus Christi.

The elder Epstein died in 1945 and his widow along with Melvin and his brother, Lester, and Gertrude Cox and Leon Guzick continued to operate the store.

In the early 1950s Melvin and Renee, who were married in 1949, began purchasing corporate shares and by 1978, they had acquired full ownership of the store. An extensive remodeling took place and the name was changed to its current name, Clothes, Inc. At that same time the Milady's portion of the building was sold to M. T. Dearmond.

"I always believed a business name should describe the type of merchandise that could be purchased," said Melvin, commenting on the reason he renamed the store.

The Epsteins said they look forward to retirement with the same enthusiasm that has enriched their years together as a working couple. They plan to remain active in the Bay City community, especially with the Festival Arts Association.

However, they also plan to travel to visit their four children who are scattered across the country: Max, who is a staff conductor for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City; Robert, a market analyst for Bell South Telephone in Atlanta, Ga.; Jaine Frazier, a clinical physiologist in Dallas; and Betty Epstein, a real estate agent in Austin. Oh yes, they also have a grandson, Bo Frazier, who they plan to visit often.

Still, the Epsteins close their store with sadness. They are concerned about the future of Bay City from a merchant's point of view. They realize when their store closes, it will be another empty store in Bay City, that is until they can find someone to lease the building. However, they are proud about he appearance of the square.

"I still feel good about the square in Bay City. Some downtown areas are so depressed, but the square in Bay City still looks good," said Melvin.

They also know they will be saying goodbye to their employees, Elsie Benedict and Del Garza who have been with them for 25 years, as well as Margaret Berryman and Becky Brown, who have worked at the store for two years, and friends who have become regular customers through the years.

"We will miss our friends, " said Renee.

"But it is an exciting time. It will be fun," echoed her husband.

Daily Tribune, May 8, 1988

Epstein home in 2013

Renee Lewis Epstein

Renee Lewis Epstein died of leukemia in Houston on October 20, 1995. Born to Max and Fannie Lewis, Mrs. Epstein spent her childhood years in Boling, Texas. Then, after her marriage to Melvin Epstein, she moved to Bay City where she lived until her death.

Renee Epstein brought much love and enrichment to her family, her friends, and her community. While raising her four children, Max, Jaine, Robert and Betty, she found time to meet the many demands of managing a retail store with her husband.

Along with her husband, Melvin, she participated in founding Festival Arts, a community service organization which brings a wide variety of cultural and entertainment events to Matagorda County. Her recognition of the importance of music and drama helped to bring many performing artists to her hometown.

After the death of her son, Max, she and her husband established the Max Epstein Memorial Fund, an endowment that awards scholarships and other gifts to benefit Matagorda County and its aspiring young musicians.

Survivors include: Melvin, her husband of 46 years, Betty; Jaine and her husband, Tom and their son, Bo; and her son Robert and his partner, Rob Dean.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to the Max Epstein Memorial Fund, P. O. Box 111, Bay City, Texas, 77494-0111.

Daily Tribune, October 24, 1995

Lester Epstein

Former Bay Citian Lester Epstein, 70, died Sept. 4, 1992. He was born March 12, 1922 in Houston.

He attended Bay City High School and graduated from the Schreiner Institute in Kerrville and the University of Texas at Austin.

Survivors include a son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Barbara Epstein; a daughter and son-in-law, Gail and Foster Faerman; a brother and sister-in-law, Melvin and Renee Epstein of Bay City and a sister and brother-in-law, Geri and Charles Hooks of Houston; five grandchildren, Christopher and Ryan Epstein and Jessica, Julie and Daniel Faerman; his former wife and friend, Evan Epstein and her mother, Jessie Strizver of Houston.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Max and Ida Epstein of Bay City.

For those desiring to make a donation in Lester Epstein's name, the family suggests contributions be made to the "Max Epstein Trust For Education in the Arts" at P. O. Box 111, Bay City, 77404-0111, or to the charity of the giver's choice.

Arrangements are with Levy Funeral Directors in Houston.

Daily Tribune, September 6, 1992

Met Opera Conductor Epstein Dies

By Lana Sweeten

Former Bay City native Max Epstein, conductor and member of the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera Company, died Friday at his home in Manhattan.

Epstein, 39, joined the Met in 1984, debuting in January 1986 with the performance of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." He gave his final performance last March when he conducted and sang with a group of artists gathered for the national broadcast of the 50th anniversary of Texaco's Saturday radio broadcasts.

His conducting career began in Germany in 1975, where he held positions at opera houses in Nuremberg and Kassel. After nine years abroad, he moved back to the United States and accepted the position at the Met under the auspices of conductor James Levin.

The course of Epstein's life shifted after seeing an opera performance featuring Beverly Sills in Houston during a break from Dartmouth College.

Renee Epstein, Max's mother, told the Daily Tribune in a December 1985 issue, "When the performance concluded, he told us, 'I know now what I am going to do with the rest of my life.'"

Upon his return to school, he changed his major from business and economics to music. His only previous training in music was piano lessons and playing the french horn with the Bay City High School Black Cat Band. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude at Dartmouth in 1973.

Epstein later acquired additional music training from the Vienna Academy of Music and Northwestern University. When he graduated from Dartmouth, he became a recipient of fellowships to the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Hokhaschule fur Music in Vienna.

From 1980-86, he was a member of the Bayreuth Wagner Festival. He was also a member of the Salzburg Festival from 1987-89, and in 1990, he served as music director on a recording of Wagner's complete "Ring Cycle" performed by the Metropolitan Opera on Deutsche Grammophone.

Epstein is survived by his parents, Renee and Melvin Epstein of Bay City; two sisters, Betty Epstein of Austin and Jaine Fraser of  Dallas; a brother, Robert Epstein of Atlanta; and a nephew, Bo, of Atlanta.

Memorial services are planned at the Metropolitan Opera Company. Services are also pending in Bay City.

"We will sorely miss his wisdom, counsel and friendship but take solace in the fact that his memory will live on through his efforts and inspiration on behalf of both, the arts and artists of opera," said David Reuben, spokesman for the Met.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial contributions to The Max Epstein Fund for Education in the Arts/Victoria Bank & Trust Co., P. O. Box 2360, Bay City, Texas 7404-2260 or to the charity of your choice.

The Daily Tribune, December 16, 1990


Copyright 2007 - Present by the Epstein Family
All rights reserved

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