Jeanne Catherine Mueller of Canon City, Colorado passed away on Saturday, June 6, 2020 at the age of 98.
Jeanne was born on December 30, 1921, in Dubuque, Iowa. The older of two children born to Clyde and Pearl Chapman, she loved her family and enjoyed trips across the Mississippi to East Dubuque to visit aunts, uncles and cousins. Jeanne loved going for root beer floats with her “daddy” and helping her mom with household chores. Her childhood dream came true when her little brother, Jim, was born. She was delighted to be his second mother and loved him dearly. Jim later became a Catholic priest and was adored by Jeanne’s entire family until his early passing from Melanoma Cancer. The family of four, along with her childhood pet (Rusty), were very close and went on frequent family vacations together.
Jeanne graduated from Clark College in Dubuque with a degree in Nutrition. During this time, she met her life-long friends Lillian Freund and Eilene Lehman. She also ended up on a blind date with a Casanova and good dancer from down the river in Bellevue, Ferd Mueller. The two made quite a pair and to this day, they are remembered for their amazing ability to dance together (truly an art form). Soon after their first date, Jeanne became ill with an ear infection. The treatment was severe and left her deaf in her right ear. During her recovery, she began to fall in love with this Bellevue boy who cared for her during her illness. The two planned to marry. Their plans were delayed in 1943 when Ferd was drafted into the Army to join the allied forces in Europe during World War II. On one particular leave, Jeanne joined Ferd stateside for a military ball where the two swore that whatever song was playing when they entered the ball would be “Their Song”. The song playing was “The Beer Barrel Polka”, which became a family joke for years. Jeanne waited patiently, wrote letters regularly and prayed for the safe return of her GI.
Ferd did indeed return from the war and the two were married on June 17, 1947 in Dubuque, IA. Jeanne worked teaching home economics and nutrition while Ferd completed his Engineering Degree from Iowa State. In July of 1949, the pair moved to Canon City, Colorado where they would go on to live and raise a family for the next 70 years. Jeanne was pregnant during the move and their first of seven children was born in Canon City.
Ferd worked for Freeman Firebrick and Harbison Walker. He founded and owned Colorado Refractories and Siloam Stone. Jeanne was truly the “Wind Beneath his Wings” during all of his business ventures. She befriended Betty Freeman, the wife of the owner during the Freeman Firebrick days and the couple’s strong bond was a key to the success of that company. She hosted hundreds of dinner parties and social events entertaining clients, vendors and employees of all their companies. Of high importance to Ferd, she had dinner ready for him and the family every evening at 6pm when he got home.
Jeanne was an outstanding home maker. In the early days, she would clip coupons and make the most of a very tight budget. She prepared good-tasting nutritious dinners, packed lunches and made the most amazing waffles-and-egg breakfasts on Sunday morning after church. Many neighborhood friends enjoyed nice meals from Jeanne as well, if they happened to be around at meal time. The Canon City Daily Record featured some of her most famous recipes including ham balls, homemade sugar cookies, butterscotch brownies and her famous caramels. At the same time, she kept an immaculate home. She dusted meticulously, ironed the pillow cases and vacuumed twice a week. If cleanliness is next to godliness, she is indeed a saint.
Her children were unbelievably blessed to have her as a mom. She was devoted to making sure they had the best education, religious training, clothing and love. “Mom always made sure we had good school clothes and kept a tight, hand-me-down inventory by age and size”. Jeanne helped with homework as well as preparation for first communions, confirmation, etc. Some of her children’s fondest memories were on the days they were sick. She would pamper, love and care for them with special individual attention that was hard to come by in a family with seven children. Although a tough lady and not afraid to discipline a smart mouth or bad behavior, her discipline was backed with love and a belief that her children could always do better and live up to a higher standard. As a result, her children are all business owners or high-ranking professionals today.
Six of her seven children were boys, and rambunctious ones at that. They all agree that “mom put up with a lot”. She worked hard and prayed even harder to keep her children on the straight and narrow road. When one would go astray or join an unwholesome crowd, she prayed tirelessly and did everything in her power to advocate for a turn around. Many in town would see her on walks holding a book of people she was praying for (mostly her family). She was the founder of the “Just Say No” program in Canon City and worked with local schools to fight against drug and alcohol abuse. She was even honored at a dinner with then President and Nancy Reagan for her work in this area.
She was an extremely active member of St. Michael Catholic Church. She taught Sunday school, was part of the Ladies Prayer Group, read her bible daily, led the Charismatic Group, was a Benedictine Oblate, a Lector and served as a Eucharistic Minister. In her eighties, she was still delivering communion to Catholic residents at Progressive Care Center (PCC) in Canon.
Years later, after a severe stroke that left her left side paralyzed and the beginning of dementia, she became a full-time resident of Progressive Care Center where she remained the last six years of her life. Ferd visited her every day to enjoy some time together and say their evening prayers. As Ferd’s body began to fail him, he joined Jeanne at PCC where the two enjoyed meals and time together for over a year, not to mention the fine care and love from the staff at PCC. In June of 2017, Ferd and Jeanne celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Jeanne was dearly loved by the staff at PCC and was awarded the “Best Smile” certificate one day before her passing.
Jeanne is preceded in death by her husband, Ferd Mueller; her parents, Clyde and Pearl Chapman; her sibling, Father James Chapman; and her great-grandson, Brycen Zerby. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Doug and Carol Mueller, Jeff and Connie Mueller, Nancy and Stan Silengo, Brad and Linda Mueller, Matt and Sharon Mueller, Mark and Karen Mueller, Jim and Thelma Mueller, along with 21 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. She joins Ferd in heaven where they now dance to the music of the angels in eternal praise to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Viewing and recitation of the Rosary, 7:00 p.m. Friday, June 26, with Mass of Christian Burial at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, June 27, both services at St. Michael Catholic Church in Canon City.