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Valley businessman and philanthropist, Michael Yates dies from COVID-19

Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-13 00:32:56-05

Another life lost to COVID-19. The Valley is saying goodbye to a well-known car dealer who was also a big philanthropist in the area.

“The best life, the best childhood, the best memories,” says Whitney Yates, daughter of Michael Yates.

Whitney Yates will never take her father’s love for granted.

"He was just the kind of dad that, I could call him and he would be right there anytime I ever needed him,” says Yates.

Michael Yates tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of December and was hospitalized by January 6.

"He spent 43 days in the hospital by himself and that's something that's really hard for me, that I will probably take with me the rest of my life because he was scared those first two weeks,” says Yates.

His health fluctuated throughout his battle with the virus.

“I mean he already had COVID pneumonia and then he got over that but he had damage to the lungs, then he had a stroke, then he had bacterial pneumonia,” says Yates.

His body took too many hits. Yates lost his battle with COVID-19 last week.

“It's been hard; it’s actually been horrible. It's a horrible place to be in too because you want for everything to go back to normal with COVID. I do, I want the vaccine to be everywhere and everyone to be able to live their life but then, it's also like it was too late for him,” says Yates.

Michael’s family was by his side during those final moments. Whitney says her parents were together for 40 years.

“Anywhere we were, they truly enjoyed each other’s company. Just had a marriage that you would look up to, through thick and thin,” says Yates.

His wife Janine found solace in helping others.

After learning first-hand the struggle of staying connected to a loved one in the hospital, she and Whitney began collecting iPads. They distributed 75 of them inside Banner Thunderbird’s ICU. They also fundraised $30,000 to go to other locations.

“If they see somebody that needs something, and they can do something for someone, try to do it. It makes the world a better place,” says Yates.

Whitney learned that from her father, who was a philanthropist within the community. Yates was on the boards of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Phoenix Children’s for many years.

“Just such a hard worker for other people; he really enjoyed helping people,” says Yates.

Yates was also a big businessman, starting Yates GMC Buick 35 years ago. He leaves behind a legacy that his family will continue to carry-on.

“The things that people love about going there, will continue,” says Yates.

Yates' wake will take place this Sunday. The dealership will be closed Monday for his funeral.

The family has created the Michael Yates Memorial Scholarship Fund in his honor at Agua Fria High School so his love for helping the community will continue as well.

You can write “Michael Yates” in the comment line. This webpage also includes instructions for how you may donate via check.