Joel Jacob Epstein Profile Photo
1937 Joel 2023

Joel Jacob Epstein

April 13, 1937 — December 30, 2023


Joel Jacob Epstein of Olivet, Michigan and Hallandale, Florida died on 30 December 2023 after a long illness.  He was 86.  

Joel was born in the Bronx, New York on 13 April 1937, the son of Samuel Epstein (1905-1995) and Beatrice Epstein (1906-1990).  On 26 August 1962 Joel married Julia Ann Gertler, the daughter of David Gertler (1903-1982) and Ruth Gertler (1911-1997).  Joel and Julia had two children, Roy Michael Epstein of Olivet, Michigan and Victoria A Epstein of Portland, Oregon.

Joel received his BA from Queens College & his MA from the University of Michigan.  He earned his doctorate from Rutgers University specializing in European history. He then taught history at Newark College of Engineering until the family relocated to Olivet where he was a Professor of History at Olivet College from 1968 until his retirement in 1999.  He loved his years of teaching especially his Holocaust and Vietnam classes.  He was also a published author having written several articles on the teaching of the Holocaust and a book about the political career of Francis Bacon.  One of the many highlights of his teaching career was an exhibit on Anne Frank that he worked for years to bring to Battle Creek, MI.

He was a caring & loyal husband & father to Julia, Roy, and Victoria.  He loved his family and his students.  Some of his many other enjoyments included The Traverse City Film Festival, traveling the world, cooking, gardening, classical music, theatre, golfing, solving crossword puzzles and swimming in the pool at his Florida residence. He was a longtime member of the Olivet Lions Club. 
Joel is survived by his wife, Julia, his two children, Roy and Victoria and his son-in-law Matthew Wilcox.

Please join the family for a Celebration of Life to remember and honor Joel on Sunday, May 19th at 2:00 PM at The University of Olivet Cutler Student Center, Community Room, 200 East Cottage Street, Olivet, MI 49076. 

Arrangements were entrusted to Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 723 US Hwy 27 N Marshall, Michigan 49068. Please visit to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.



To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joel Jacob Epstein, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

The University of Olivet Cutler Student Center, Community Room

200 East Cottage Street, Olivet, MI 49076

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 2069

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree