Ray Muller dies at the age of 87

One of Maple Lake’s grand men and past parade Grand Marshals was laid to rest on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ray Muller, 87, a life-long resident of Maple Lake, died on March 12 at the Ebenezer Covenant Home in Buffalo.

Muller’s grandparents opened a mortuary and furniture store in Maple Lake in 1897 and Muller became the third generation to operate the mortuary. He and his sister, Katherine, managed the business from 1958 to 1975, when it was sold to Art and Doug Dingmann, ending the 82-year family ownership of the mortuary. Muller continued working as a successful mechanical contractor before his retirement in 1985.

Muller’s accomplishments in Maple Lake included playing on some of the finest sports teams the MLHS Irish have ever produced: the undefeated high school football teams in 1931 and 1932 and the 1932 district champion basketball team.

He was a member of many local organizations, including serving as a charter member of the Maple Lake Lions and six years as a member of the Maple Lake City Council. His honors included his selection in 1992 as the Maple Lake St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal, 1995 Minneapolis Aquatennial Commodore’s Award for community service, and he was honored last summer as one of the Maple Lake Laker’s Fans of the Century.

Muller and his late wife, Marilyn, had seven children, with four still living in this area: Al and his wife, Michele, of Maple Lake; Joe and his wife, Carol, of Monticello; Dave and his wife, Kelli, of Minnetonka; and Charlie and his wife, Aimee, of Rogers.

Al Muller delivered the eulogy for his father at the services on Monday and described his dad as having “that John Wayne spirit.”

“He was honest, kind, generous and always stuck up for the underdog,” Al said. “His family came from Germany and Ireland. He was always so proud of his Irish heritage. He claimed our relatives came all the way back from the King of Scotland! From the Irish, he got his love of people. From the Germans, he got his stubbornness. I don’t know where he got his athletic ability, but he sure had it. He excelled at all sports, but especially baseball, football and basketball.”

Al talked about a side of Ray Muller that didn’t make headlines.  “People tell me how generous he was,” Al said, “often loaning money to those who needed it–including me. He backed sporting and community projects. He was a long-time member of many local organizations, the Lions, the Knights of Columbus, the Legion and the Businessmen’s Club. He was generous with charities. Dad had a deep love for Maple Lake–the town and the people.”

And he made time for those people.  Former Messenger publisher Harold Brutlag said Muller was a regular at the Maple Lake Cafe. “He had a good sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to voice his opinions,” Brutlag said. “All in all, he was a great supporter of Maple Lake. He was one of the old guard.”

Earl Pettis told about the time he and Ray got in over their heads doing some lawn work. “He had a hedge in his yard he decided to cut down,” Earl said. “No problem. I got out my chainsaw and we cut it down. Then we didn’t want people to trip over the stumps, so we dug them out. Then we had to fill the hole we made and then plant grass. We didn’t plan that out very well.”

There were also trips to baseball games.  “If we went out of town, we decided that one of us should drive and the other should buy the tickets,” Earl said. “You know what they say about the memories of old people, but each time, we could remember whose turn it was to buy tickets.”

Maple Lake Mayor Mike Messina followed in Muller’s footsteps at Dingmann Funeral Care and talked about the many quiet acts of kindness initiated by Muller over the years.  “He did a lot of generous things,” Messina said, “both financially and with his time behind the scenes that not many people ever saw or heard about.  “He had a very, very generous heart. There’s not enough people in this world like Ray.”