When I first met Joe at ER Rotary, he asked me where I was from. I said Kalamazoo and he responded, “I don’t think so.”, so I told him that I was originally from Texas. From that day on he called me Yellow Rose.  He had never learned to play The Yellow Rose of Texas on his keyboard, but for my birthday the next year, to my surprise he announced that it was my birthday and played and it.  Every year, only once a year, he played this song for me at Rotary.
Joe and I became friends that shared laughs, tears and stories but most of all recipes.  Joe was a wonderful cook and taught me a lot of his secrets.  I bought a yellow rose today and said a special prayer of my dear friend.
[Photo: Myrna putting a Yellow Rose pin on Joe.]
- Myrta Keelan a.k.a. The Yellow Rose for you Joe. 💐
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Joe is an Elk Rapids legend. He will be remembered for having his hand in all things Elk Rapids throughout his life.
We will, however remember him most for making Joe’s Theater a landmark in the region. It was always more than going to see a movie. It was an uncrowded, peaceful escape. It was like he was sharing his living room with you, at times only us! Our hearts ache thinking that he will not be sitting in that cramped ticket booth sharing just enough about the movie.
We will never forget!
Bill and Phyllis Donberg
[Photo: Phyllis (left) and Joe (far right) rubbing chickens at a Rotary BBQ.]
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As a graduate of Elk Rapids High School, Joe was a staple for students, both as kids and as teenagers. Not only did Joe always welcome us kids into the cinema to enjoy hometown entertainment, his smile and good nature was infectious. I remember him coming into school to share the history and love for Elk Rapids. His words made me proud to be an Elk and now an Elk Rapids Schools alumna. His legacy lives on in everyone of us!
Julie Brown, Superintendent, Elk Rapids Public Schools

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I joined the Elk Rapids Rotary Club (the club) in 1999 when my wife Verna and I moved from Midland to the Elk Rapids area. I had been a Rotarian in Midland for about 10 years so was very interested in learning about the Elk Rapids Rotary Club. I soon learned that a fantastic source of information about the club, and Elk Rapids in general was Joe Yuchasz. Joe became a Rotarian and a member of the Elk Rapids Club on February 1, 1967. At his passing Joe was the longest surviving active member at almost 56 years. Joe's dad, Joseph F. Yuchasz, was a charter member of the club, 1950.


Over the years I spent a lot of time asking Joe about the history of the club including members now deceased, fund raising efforts both successful and not so successful.  He really enjoyed talking about the projects the club sponsored especially the harbor, the boardwalk on the north side of the Elk River under US 31 and Rotary Park. What I quickly learned was to set aside enough time when planning to ask Joe a question. He would enthusiastically get into answering my question and often wonder off into somewhat related (and sometimes not related) questions.


At some point he took me up the narrow winding staircase off the lobby of the theater to his office storage space and projection room. In that somewhat tight space, he had several file cabinets full of past weekly bulletins, Rotary Show programs and more. He allowed me to snoop through these files at my leisure. I wish I had done more of this so I could ask him more questions.  But listening to the answers would have taken a lot of time. It would have been time well spent.


- Jim Sak


Wow! What a guy. With Joe’s history of growing up in Elk Rapids and the many years of active connections in the community the chances of knowing Joe and being part of something he offered or participated in was high. I recall when looking for a piano instructor for my son, the recommendation was, hands down, Joe Yuchasz. 

For many of us, Joe’s music was our happy place and something we looked forward to as he brough his love of music to weekly Rotary meetings as he played the piano and led members through a few songs to kick off our meetings. As I recall being part of Rotary events that Joe supported, he was excited to open his cinema doors to bring the Iron Lung to Elk Rapids sharing Polio history and awareness with our community. Joe also unselfishly shared his Cinema as he supported Harbor Days to provide a children’s movie during festival week and shared space out front of the cinema for the announcers table, sound system and seating for seniors for the very popular Harbor Days parade. I will always be grateful for his 

One fun memory was when I would join “The Boys” now and again during their morning coffee at Java 
Jones. There were always plenty of stories to tell and fun to poke. However, when that slowed down 
Joe could always come up with a tid-bit to share. His history and knowledge of our town was 
appreciated and interesting. He had such a detailed and amazing memory as far back as his childhood 
and the development of the Harbor as he was at his father’s side through the journey. 

Simply, love Joe from the factual direct serious side to the funny side with his wonderful laugh and big 

Sherry Steffen
A decade ago I was deeply involved in re-design of  the ER Grace Memorial Harbor dredging process. There was a lot of contention. Discouraged, I went to see Joe for conversation and counsel. We sat on a bench near his beloved theater. There he listened, offered encouragement and taught me a life lesson on effecting change in a small town with deep traditions such as Elk Rapids.  Joe reassured me that he also had faced difficulties and how he had overcome them. The lesson remains in my heart and mind as I volunteer in the greater Elk Rapids community.  For me he will always be seated on that bench or behind the counter serving popcorn and his insightful reviews of the films he screened.  Go with God’s grace Joe.
Keith Termaat