Russell Mueller dies at 85
–Rev. Dr. Russell Wayne Mueller, 85, of Paso Robles, CA, died Monday, Jan 9, 2017 at 11:15 p.m. at French Hospital, San Luis Obispo, CA. He had been in failing health following a broken hip in November.
Russ was born in Golden, Illinois, the son of Gottlieb O. and Anna H. Heinecke Mueller. After the death of his mother in 1935, Russ and his brother, Wilfred, were raised by their step-mother, Fanny L. Weerts who was Anna’s cousin. He was baptized and confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Golden. Russ graduated from Golden High School, Golden, IL in 1949.
He was married to Norma Lee Totsch on June 17, 1951. They celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary this past year. He graduated from Wartburg College, Waverly, IA in 1953 and later graduated with a Master of Divinity at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA in 1957. Russ served in the U.S. Army Reserves (1958-1975) retiring with the rank of Major.
He received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS), Berkeley, CA in 1982, writing his thesis on “The Use of Television in Parish Education.”
Russ was ordained as a pastor on June 9, 1957 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Golden, IL. He served a number of congregations: Zion Lutheran Church, Mt. Olive, IL; Immanuel Lutheran Church, Flatville, IL, while serving there he began broadcasting worship services on the radio and producing television programs; Faith Lutheran Church, Castro Valley, CA, while serving there he was part of the PLTS internship program; St. Andrew Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA, Russ pioneered work in the television ministry of San Diego, serving as part of a team that won an “Emmy” for the local Focus Five program in 1981 and introduced religious programming to San Diego cable; St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Lakewood, CA; Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Bakersfield, CA. Russ retired as a full-time pastor and moved to Paso Robles in 1999. In his retirement years, he served as an Interim Pastor at San Pablo, King City, Templeton, and Porterville, all located in California.
Russ was an active member of Hope Lutheran Church in Atascadero, CA. He was a Habitat for Humanity Restore volunteer. Russ was active in the Paso Robles Democratic Club and served several years as president.
Surviving is his wife, Norma, of Paso Robles, CA; his brother, Wilfred and his wife, Henrietta, of Highland Park, IL; five children, David and his wife, Judith Kulla of Hastings, MN; Mike of Castro Valley, CA; Kelly Greenne (former daughter-in-law) of Hayward, CA; Matthew of Paso Robles, CA; Brian and his wife Michelle of Castro Valley, CA; Sylvia of Turlock, CA; three Vietnamese foster sons: Khoa Van Do, Thanh Van Do, and Thien Pham and three grandsons: Steven Waybright, Micah Mueller, Christian Mueller and one granddaughter, Sierra Greenne; numerous great-grandchildren and several cousins. He was also preceded in death by one Vietnamese foster son, Hung Tran.
A Memorial service for Russ will be held Saturday, March 4th at 11:00 at a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, 8005 San Gabriel Rd, Atascadero, CA. A Reception will follow. The Committal will take place at Golden Community Cemetery, Golden, IL at a later date.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking for donations to: El Camino Homeless Organization in Atascadero, CA; or Hope Lutheran Church in Atascadero, CA.