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Werner A. Mueller* - 2006 Outstanding Former Faculty
Modern and Classical Languages
Born in Berlin, Germany, Werner A. Mueller studied classical Greek archaeology and German literature at universities in Berlin, Munich, Freiberg, and Koenigsberg, where he received a Ph.D. He immigrated to the United States in 1928. In 1946, after teaching at various American institutions, including the Cate School in California, the Asheville School in North Carolina, and Culver Military Academy in Indiana, Mueller came to the University of Wyoming. He joined the Department of Modern and Classical Languages faculty to teach German, Latin, and Greek. Beloved and revered by many of his students, Mueller was a dedicated teacher and kept office hours even after his retirement in 1973. He also continued to teach on a substitute basis long after retirement. A former student Mary Dunnewald notes, “Herr Mueller was among the most memorable of my professors during my years at the University of Wyoming. He was tough—so much so that I managed to produce only one perfect lesson in two years of German. But because he was so fair, I kept trying and have retained a great amount of what he taught me 45 years ago.”
Catherine Demshar, a former graduate student of Mueller says, “Being one of his last candidates to go through the master’s program, I came to know Herr Mueller quite well. To work side-by-side with him was a privilege and honor. He became a legend in his own time and left behind a legacy of valuable knowledge and the skills to apply it. Every day that goes by, I feel truly blessed that he was part of my life.”
Mueller published a book, The Nibelungenlied Today: Its Substance, Essence, and Significance, on the medieval German epic, Song of the Nibelungen, which in Germanic myth and literature is about an evil family possessing a magic hoard of gold. He served as president of the Rocky Mountain Division of the Modern Language Association in 1963-1964.
Well respected by his colleagues, Mueller is remembered fondly by many. Professor Klaus Hanson, former chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages comments, “He inspired his students and colleagues alike through his high ethics, his humanity and cultured being, his vast knowledge of German literature and culture, and his great love for music. He would never miss a Saturday afternoon’s performance of the Texaco Opera series on National Public Radio, and many a Monday morning he would come to the office and sing passages in German or Italian from Saturday’s opera performance.”
The late Professor Emeritus William R. Steckel, Department of History, once said, “Professor Mueller and I were colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences for almost 50 years. During that time, I came to know him well and to respect him highly. During his many years of service to UW, he was one who worked for accommodation rather than confrontation, stability rather than turmoil, and substance rather than flash. With such a judicious temperament and measure of commitment, he served our institution well indeed.”
To continue his legacy, an endowed scholarship in Mueller’s name is awarded annually to an outstanding undergraduate German major. Mueller’s wife of 59 years, Henrietta, is a well-known artist who has had many national exhibits. Both of their sons Kirk and Christopher are UW graduates.
*In loving memory.