November 11, 1919 - September 4, 2006
This obituary has been written by Faithe Deffner, past President of the American Accordionists' Association who also served with Melba Yale on the board of AFNA.
Melba Jean Baxter Yale, or "Mrs. Yale," as she was affectionately known to thousands of young musicians whom she taught over a 71-year career, passed away peacefully at home at the age of 86. Melba's determination and consistent efforts were basic characteristics tempered by her sincere warmth and dedication to those with whom she worked.
Few women attended college in 1939 when Melba, the daughter of a professor, earned her B.A. Degree in music from Kansas State Teachers' College (Kansas State University). She studied and performed on the pipe organ and played the string bass in the College Symphony. In addition, she earned a reputation as a fine accordionist and was sought after to teach this instrument locally. She became a staunch supporter of the accordion and loved its music throughout her life.
In June of 1940 she married Oakley Yale. When they moved to Buffalo, New York, they formed the Yale Accordion Duo and performed many engagements and concerts, beginning what was a lifelong collaboration.The family moved to sunny California in 1953, where they founded the "Yale Accordion Academy" in Inglewood. As their school grew in prominence and student body, they introduced the world-famous "Yale Accordion Symphony" which made six critically acclaimed concert tours to Europe.
Melba Yale's professional achievements are very impressive. She was a life member of Sigma Alpha Iota, Alpha Kappa Chapter (the national professional music fraternity for women), a life member of the American Federation of Musician Union Local 47, a past president and a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O. Sisterhood) for 62 years, and a former past president and a member of Accordion Federation of North America (AFNA).
In 1990 her husband Oakley passed away, followed by her son Darrell in 1997. Oakley Yale, Sr. was a past president of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild (ATG) and the Accordion Federation of North America.
Melba Yale leaves behind sons Oakley, Jr. (wife Connie) and Paul (wife Anne), and daughters Margo (husband Ron) and Melody (husband Dave) and daughter-in-law Irene Yale, as well as eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren and a great-great grandson. She will be remembered fondly by hundreds of students whose lives she touched with the positive influence of music.
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