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Richard H. Muller ’56

Rich Muller ’56 and Mertie Hansen Muller ’56

Richard H. Muller ’56, April 20, 2014, in Portland. Rich came to Reed from Marin County, California, although his family emigrated from Germany. He chose Reed because it offered excellence in education, he told Rory Bowman ’90 in an interview in 2008. “About that time, Reed made the magazines as being the best small liberal arts college in the country, and that did have an impact.” On a freshman orientation trip, he met Mertie Mae Hansen ’56; they were married four months later. Rich had a longstanding interest in judo and started a judo program at Reed. “We were a powerhouse on the West Coast in competitive judo in the early ’50s.” Teammates included Jack Sadler ’56, Paul Burgess ’56, and Leroy Larson ’55. Rich taught judo three times a week, ran the summer swim program during summers he was not in military training, and he was appointed a student athletic director, along with Glen Wilcox ’56, in the absence of a college athletic director. Rich earned a BA from Reed in political science, writing on the property tax exemption in Multnomah County. “My thesis professor was a guy named Charles McKinley [political science 1918–60], who was the holy terror of the poli sci department, and it taught me a great deal of humility.” Rich served in the U.S. Marine Corps and earned a JD from the University of Washington. He clerked for Gus Solomon ’26—“that was real education”—and practiced in small firms until he established his own private practice, specializing in civil rights law. Throughout his career, he maintained a judo practice, and became a sixth degree black belt and counsel for the U.S. Judo Federation. Rich and Mertie had three daughters, including Karla Muller Verbeck ’78, and a son. Karla’s husband, Richard Verbeck ’81, and son, Alex Verbeck ’05, were also Reed graduates. “Whether or not Reed was worth the time and the money spent for the rest of your life? The answer is, absolutely. Absolutely,” Rich said. “I know more about what’s going on in the world around me than contemporaries who have gone to other schools. I don’t think I’m any smarter than they are. I just got a better education. And I think I’m a better human being because of that. To this day, I still want to learn. I still question. I still like to jab people with ideas to see what happens. And, I don’t know if that makes you socially a nice person, but it’s darned interesting.” Survivors include Mertie, their children, and eight grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2014

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