I never met James Mueller and for anyone else who never met him, it was clear on Sunday afternoon that he was a dynamic, caring man, loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Over 100 family, friends and parishioners showed up to St. Mary Star of the Sea to honor the man and his legacy.
Mueller, founder of Mueller’s Metal Buildings, passed away on January 20th, 2016, but his life and impact on the community is still felt through the area. A true testament to the kind of man he was.
James Schaefer spoke for about Mueller for a few minutes at the event, “James was a man who did whatever needed to be done at this church or in the community, he was the man to call.”
Mueller graduated Ballinger High School in 1951 and he was many things to many people. All of them good. He had been a businessman, plumber, welder, rancher, farmer, sheet-metal worker, well driller and civic leader. He was married to Rose for 61 years and they had 9 children, which is why he was bestowed with the moniker, “Big Daddy.”
Mueller sold his business and retired in 1984, but instead of slowing down in retirement, he only seemed to gain momentum and continued to be a leader in his family and in the community. He continued to build and worked to ensure future generations would enjoy the family ranch.
One of his daughters, Judy Moffett, told a story about Mueller’s generosity, “The elementary school needed swings so I talked to dad because I figured he’d know who to talk to about getting the metal. He knew the places to buy inexpensive metal. I went to the next meeting to update them but dad had already bought the metal and built the swing sets. And they’re still there today.”
Metal to construct the building cook shed was donated to St. Mary Star of the Sea church by Mueller and was christened, “Big Daddy’s Cook Shed.” The cook shed is complete with a walk-in cooler, large smokers, rotisserie and a fully functional prep area. They did it right, just as Mueller himself would have done. The facility is as spacious as it is efficient.
To mark the celebration, volunteers from the church cooked 400 chicken halves at approximately 2 lbs per half for a total of 800 lbs of perfectly smoked chicken. The plates were served for $10 each and came with pinto beans, potato salad, tea and cookies.
Bishop Michael Sis of the Diocese of San Angelo arrived at 1:30 and was greeted by St. Mary’s pastor, Father Yesu and deacon David Workman. Bishop Sis immediately started visiting with the attendees and talking to some children. The bishop is a personable man with a pleasant, gracious demeanor.
A prayer of Intercession was led by Workman, which was followed by Bishop Sis leading a prayer and blessing. Sis visited the cook shed that was attached to the pastoral center and used the aspergillum to bless it and the equipment inside it with holy water while Workman and Yesu walked along with him, Workman carrying the Holy Water Receptacle.
Two nuns, Sister Catherine and Sister Angela, from the Diocese of Amarillo stopped by to witness the event and visit with Sis. They were in the area for a lent mission in Rowena, Miles and Olfen. The Bishop visited with them for several minutes after he blessed the cook shed.
Several generations of the Mueller family gathered for a group photo in front of the cook shed. The family is a testament to Mueller and his impact and influence on each of them could be seen. Many are volunteers in groups throughout the community and carry on the traditions set down by Mueller himself.
Family matriarch, Rose, was in attendance and visited with most everyone who attended the blessing.
Mueller’s impact and legacy will live long through his children, grandchildren great-grandchildren, friends and in the community. It was evident that he was the type of person who made you want to be a better person. He truly was an honorable man.
The cook shed is a worthy tribute to a man loved and adored by so many, even three years after his passing.
Mueller had a favored Irish blessing that he used to recite. In his honor and in honor of the “Big Daddy Cook Shed”, we include the blessing here:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall softly upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.