Richard Edward “Dick” Mueser

Richard Edward “Dick” Mueser was born September 9th, 1930, in Bronx, New York. He was a depression baby. The Mueser family, consisted of his parents Richard Mueser, Sr. and Sophie Elisabeth (nee Wetterhahn) Mueser, older sister, Betty, and two younger brothers, Alan and Peter. They moved around many times in Dick’s childhood residing in homes in several different places within the Boroughs of New York City. He was one of those kids, who according to him, was active and always on the go. He was athletic, even at a young age, participating in stickball, an old favorite of kids on the streets of New York, and Ringolevio, a variation of a children’s game of tag that originated in the streets of New York City, in the late 19th Century.  He eventually played and starred in competitive baseball at the high school and secondary levels. He boasted that he learned to throw a curve ball before most kids learned to shave. He played other sports as well including basketball. He was a tall and somewhat lanky kid. He always shared the story of how he had the privilege of playing hoops in High School with the great Bob Cousy, or as he called him, “The Cooz”.  He and his childhood friends, including his best friend Jimmy Beetle, frequented professional baseball games at Yankee Stadium, riding the Subway in from whatever Burrough they were living at the time. Dick, his brother Alan, and Jimmy would buy a subway ticket, go to the ballpark, buy a game ticket, fill up with hot dogs, candy, and soda, and all for under .50 cents.

The family was poor during his childhood, and with his father being gone part of the time traveling for work, there was often little for the family to eat and few resources to heat their home.  It was The Great Depression, and people were just trying to survive. Dick was thrust into a premature leadership role in their home when his father was away a lot, and his older sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He became a surrogate father for his younger siblings at a young age. Often the children fended for themselves as their mother tried to maintain a minimum standard of living. But they were fortunate to have some extended family nearby, one of whom was his Uncle Abs.  Dick would later refer to Uncle Abs as his “real” father since his own father was absent so much of time. Uncle Abs was a great role model for the kids and he and Dick had a very close relationship. Dick would learn much about becoming a man from Uncle Abs.  Dick took on a large responsibility for a teenager, and often worked several jobs to help pay the bills. He graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Queens in 1948.

Shortly after graduating, it was his primary goal to get out of the house and spread his wings. He left home shortly after High School and enlisted in the Army in New jersey in 1948. He was quickly promoted to Corporal and became responsible for training new recruits as a Drill Instructor, helping introduce the recruits to the basics of Army life. This was Dick’s first foray into significant responsibility. Many of the troops he trained went off to fight in the Korean War, and many of them came back deceased not long after their training program.  This was extremely difficult for Dick, as he loved the troops whom he trained. And even in his later years, it brought waves of emotion to him just thinking about what a waste it was to have so many young men die.  After just under two years in the service, he no longer could support the rigors and loss associated with the Army, and was discharged in 1950.

In 1950, Dick embarked on a new life journey, enrolling into undergraduate school at Albany College where he earned a B.A. in Business Administration in 1953. After undergraduate school, he took a detour and moved to Manhattan where he took a job investigating credit reports, and, on the side, sold roofing materials. In 1956, after two unfulfilling years of living and working in Manhattan, he moved back to Albany where he returned to school to earn his teaching certificate in Social Studies from New York State University, College for Teaching. He was the first person in many generations of the Mueser family to earn degrees of this stature and achieve this goal. Later in 1956, after earning his teaching certificate, Dick took a teaching job in upstate New York teaching Social Studies at the high school level. He loved teaching, and developed an affinity for debate over controversial issues in class, and one on one. This was rewarding, as he challenged the students, and they challenged him. But Dick’s contrarian teaching philosophy did not meet with the late 1950’s conservative social standard, and he was targeted as an instigator and deemed a rebel. Because of the ever increasing pressure to conform, and his unwillingness to do so, he regrettably resigned from the teaching profession in 1958.

After some soul searching, he and his brother Alan made the big life decision to move out of their childhood home of New York and go west to explore. It was a time of times when the two brothers drove west, heading through Colorado on the way, and eventually landing in California.  It was the first time they had been on their own outside of New York. They experienced many firsts in California, one of which was renting and living in Bing Crosby’s house. In 1958, after some time in California, they decided to venture back to Colorado and experience life there.  Upon arrival, Dick has said that Colorado was like a “breath of fresh air” and that “he felt as though he had died and gone to heaven” arriving in the small college town of Boulder. It was so different than New York with the mountains and the relaxed and rural feel.

He immediately enrolled in graduate school at the University of Colorado in Public Administration, and while in school worked many odd jobs to pay his bills. He assumed what he would later call “a hand to mouth existence”, and in his spare time, wrote poetry and prose.  Being in Academia again, and feeling irresponsible, was a very happy and liberating time. He read good books, drank wine, and pondered the problems of the world. Boulder was a dry town at the time, with one small liquor store just outside the city limits, where he and Alan and their cronies would venture often to refill their stock of wine and beer. This was his “rebellious stage” and one the he would always cherish into his later years.

It was during this time, 1959, that he met Carolyn Storke. They were both working at his hangout, The Sink Restaurant on The Hill, near the University campus. Dick was a fry cook, and Carolyn a waitress. The Sink burger became one of the main food groups for them while they were working there. They struck up a fast friendship which eventually turned into dating. They dated for the next year and got engaged in 1960.  They had their rehearsal dinner at the Heidelberg Inn located in the town of Lyons just north of Boulder. This would be a portent of things to come later, as their first house they built in Boulder was located on Heidelberg Drive. They married in May of 1960 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Boulder. They chose Trinity Lutheran Church because the family had a history in the Lutheran faith going back generations in New York.  Dick’s first encounter with Carolyn’s father, a Lieutenant General in the Army, was in the living room of their studio apartment when the General, a “serious man of stature in his General’s jacket”, had walked in the day before the wedding and found Dick hungover and naked just coming out of the shower. Needless to say, that would be how the relationship with the General would evolve in later years as well.

In March of 1961, their first child, Jennifer Lynn was born. It was during this time that because of the extra responsibilities in his life, that Dick made the decision to leave his graduate school studies and find full time work. After some exploration, he decided to take a job with the Social Security Administration (SSA), responding to the call of John F. Kennedy in his inauguration speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country!” He chose SSA over other Government agencies because it was an agency committed to serving people. Serving people would become Dick’s biggest life goal. So that is what he chose to do, and would continue to do for 27 great years in a distinguished career with the SSA. He would start his first job as a Claims Representative in the SSA in 1961 in Salt Lake City, Utah. During their time in SLC, in February of 1963, Harry Christopher was born. Shortly after Chris’s birth, Dick was offered a promotion to Claims Authorizer in Baltimore, Maryland, and the next chapter was set. Carolyn stayed behind due to illness, and Dick drove he and the two young children across the entire United States to Baltimore to begin their life there. Carolyn would join later that year.

Not long after they relocated to Baltimore, in November of 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. Dick and Carolyn made the decision that they would drive with the kids, to Washington D.C. to join hundreds of thousands of other mourners in honoring the late President. They drove from Baltimore to Washington D.C. in two hours, in what is normally a one-hour drive. The throngs of mourners literally put the Nation’s Capitol into gridlock in freezing temperatures. Dick and Carolyn, and the kids, Jennifer in their arms and Chris in a stroller, stood in line for six hours near the Capitol in order to pay tribute to the President’s body that lay in State at the Capitol Rotunda. This would be a defining event in their lives, and Dick would say one of the darkest days of his life.

Dick continued to shine and work his way up the Government Services ladder in the SSA in Baltimore over the next four years. In 1967, a job with Medicare became available in Denver, and without hesitation, he took the job, wanting to return to Colorado. Dick would never leave Colorado again, with the exception of three years in Washington toward the end of his life. The family settled in Colorado, and built their first home in Boulder, on Heidelberg Drive. Dick would settle into a new life in Colorado, and a new family life as his kids grew into their own. Many things about being a father were great for Dick, his favorite thing was playing catch with Chris on the side of the house until it was dark, and shooting baskets and playing one on one in the driveway with Chris for hours at a time. He loved sports, and he loved watching his son learn and play sports as well. He went on to coach multiple Little League baseball teams, and even umpire other games as well with his signature, “Hiyeeeek!!” third strike call. He was his son’s biggest fan when it came to him playing sports, and would follow Chris’s progress closely as he went on to star in Junior High and High School sports, including football, baseball, track and basketball.

He continued to excel up the ladder in the SSA and Medicare services, and the skills he was most adept in were educating, writing, speaking and program evaluation. He would go on to do many important things while in Civil Service. He helped draft the Quality of Care provisions of the Medicare Act and became a staunch advocate for Affirmative Action law. He developed a much needed outreach program for Indian Reservations in the early 1970’s and travelled frequently to Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota to assist in the program implementation for affirmative action on the reservations. He also became a champion for women within the SSA, and helped break the barriers down for women to advance into management roles.  A stellar record of service over many years.

The early 1970’s proved to be very challenging for Dick. While he continued to excel in the SSA, his family and personal life had some major setbacks. In 1972, his youngest brother Peter was killed in a tragic trucking accident in Pennsylvania. This was the low point of his life up until that time. It took Dick a long time to get over the death of Peter, and he never totally did. Then in 1974, after fourteen years of marriage, Dick and Carolyn were divorced. Dick fought for his children, and ended up taking Jennifer and Chris full time in the settlement.  Shortly after this, Dick met his second wife, Ellen, who also had two children, Christopher and Michelle. The two families combined, but in 1976 they were made complete when Erica Lynn was born. She was much younger than the rest and essentially had six parents. But Dick would say later on that she brought much needed unity, purpose and cohesiveness to a family situation that was difficult.

The 1980’s brought more change to Dick’s life. He continued to grow and advance in the SSA being promoted to Deputy Assistant Regional Commissioner in the Denver office. He was supervising forty people by this time. It was no secret that he was loved by everyone with whom he worked in the office and the region. Some of his co-workers described Dick as adept with dealing with others, and living with the core value of making connection with the people he worked with a high priority. He continued to be a huge supporter of his kids, and particularly Chris and his sports.  He tried very hard to never miss a game when Chris played Little League baseball, junior high football and baseball, and on the Junior Olympic basketball team representing Boulder.  And once Chris got to Boulder High School, Dick never missed a home game, even if it meant he had to travel back early from a business trip out of state. And even though the family lived in Boulder in the early 1980’s, and Dick commuted to work in downtown Denver, he would make every effort to try and make it to as many away basketball games as possible, even if it meant sometimes traveling in adverse weather conditions, late at night after games. He was a dedicated and supportive father.

On January 15th, 1985, his beloved Erica died after a short, but serious and rare heart-lung illness, cause and cure unknown. She was only 8 1/2 years old. This was the most devastating event of his life. They were told Erica had two years to live, but she only made it ten weeks. Dad would write later that, “Bereavement following a child’s death is indescribable.” He and the family somehow weathered through this terrible time, but in the end, Erica’s passing signified the end of Dick’s second marriage, which ended soon after in 1988.  Dick had hit bottom, and later in 1988 made the difficult decision to take an early retirement from his service with the SSA, a part of his life that he gave so much love, time and energy to for 27 years.

While in the throws of a deep depression and major life change Dick was encouraged by his son Chris to attend a four-day personal growth workshop called Making Things Happen. The leader of this workshop was a local psychologist and wonderful man, Roger Allen. Roger would later become a mentor and model of which Dick built his mentoring and coaching business around the powerful content discovered in Roger’s workshops. What transpired for Dick in the four days of Making Things Happen would change the trajectory of his life forever, for the good.  He went on a process of self-discovery spending much time and energy into healing himself from all that had transpired throughout the course of his life, culminating with Erica’s death just a few years before. Dick was reborn. His favorite readings included The Art of Possibility by Rosalind and Ben Zander, Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankel, and The Greatest Miracle In The World by Og Mandino.

Growth and self-reflection can take on many different faces and meanings. He spent much of this time in solitude, and sought cleansing and forgiveness in his life.  The common theme that kept coming up for him in everything he experienced during this time was service: Service to others.  Things did begin to happen for Dick over the next three years from 1988-1991. He healed relationships with others, he dreamed of how he could be of service to the world, and he focused on making himself the best person he could be. He became an Academic Advisor and Mentor for the University of Colorado Football program, and, during arguably the greatest three years the football program had ever seen, culminating in their first National Championship in 1991. He volunteered for Boulder County Hospice, Health Care For All Colorado, and was named the Area Representative for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. He also began a Stephen Ministry and became a Management Consultant to round out his time. He was using his skillsets from his distinguished service in the Federal Government and adding in the new knowledge he had accumulated over the past three years of personal growth.  He was serving.

In 1991, Dick would continue to serve, but in June he would have an existential life crisis that he would later describe as “God dropping a building on him.” Though he had nurtured his life back to health, something happened to cause him to go to the brink. It was a very difficult time for Dick and for those who loved him. The previous year in 1990, his older sister Betty, would drown in the lake near her group home in east Boulder. He also ended his first significant relationship since his divorce after Erica died. He would describe the period as a dark night of the soul. But by the grace of God, a series of events occurred to help him see the light again in 1991-1992.

On April 25, 1992, Dick met Barbara in Breckenridge, Colorado, at a Christian retreat.  They became engaged and later married on June 8, 1997, at the historic Ryssby Church in Longmont.  They created their new life on a small homestead between Boulder and Louisville, CO, and raised Joshua, Barbara’s son, and their 2 dogs.

Dick was a member of Unity of Boulder church, where he facilitated A Course in Miracles for several years, along with his heart-work of facilitating men’s workshops, Soaring To Freedom. He also co-facilitated a bereavement group at the church, and at Hospice of Boulder County.  He gave his time and his heart to helping others who were looking for a way to heal, a way to find happiness, a way to love.  He participated for several years in a men’s group exploring men’s spirituality.  From 1990-2010, his real estate business, Possibilities Unlimited, gave meaning and purpose to his inspired oath: “My purpose is to serve.”  He enjoyed helping customers find a place to call “home.”  Another passion of his was Health Care for All Colorado, where he volunteered giving talks to local groups to help with the campaign to fundraise and get the initiative on the ballot.  He also worked with the Democratic Party and Green Party during several election cycles, at both the local and state levels.

During the mid- and late-2000’s, Dick was engaged in local issues with Boulder Relocalization and Transition Towns Boulder.  He supported Barbara in her work in Permaculture and together they turned their home and parcel into a sustainable and regenerative homestead with orchards, gardens, honeybees, chickens, solar energy and a beautiful gathering place for family, friends and their local community.

One of Dick’s passions for the last 30 years was following the local Colorado sports scene. He loved the Colorado Rockies baseball team, the Denver Broncos football team, and probably his greatest sport’s passion was the University of Colorado football team. He loved to meet his son Chris for the games in person, and for all of the teams, or he’d spend time at home watching them on television, enjoying a beer with Chris and Barbara.

Dick had his life full of responsibility for many years until 2015 when he moved with Barbara to Longmont and took more time to enjoy his family and friends.  In 2019, Dick moved to Bainbridge Island, WA, with Barbara, for health reasons and while they enjoyed their time together in their gardens, exploring the small island community, and as students of the New Message from God, they missed their family and friends in Colorado.  Dick returned to his beloved Colorado in September 2022 to live his last year in Longmont CO, with Barbara, and on May 3, 2023, he made his peaceful transition to Spirit, under the care of hospice and his family.

Dick loved children and encouraged parents to love their children every day.  He was passionate about men and their need to heal so they could find purpose and meaning in their lives and in their relationships.  He had several mentors who inspired him and his heart work in relationships:  Viktor Frankl, Benjamin Zander and Roger Allen.  Dick had a wonderfully harmonious voice along with an internal sound track and playlist which emanated naturally from him.  It was his signature to sing at any time, in almost any place, and engage those close by to join in.  He had a great sense of humor, which came from his days of growing up in New York City.  He was a caring, generous and service-oriented man.

His children were his greatest joy. He was a wonderful father!  He is loved and missed greatly, as his light was great, and his love was generous.  He lived and walked by faith in God.  He will always be an inspiration and demonstration of how-to-live to those he loved and those who loved him.  His heart legacy was his effervescent connection with all people, especially children, letting each one know that he saw them with a smile and a warm hello, asking how they were doing that day.

Dick is survived by his beloveds: wife, Barbara, of Longmont CO; son, Chris Mueser (PJ Colangelo) of Lakewood CO; son, Christopher Ludwig (KB Ludwig) of Broomfield CO; son, Joshua Schaffer of Taipei, Taiwan; and daughter, Jennifer Bunker of Ogden UT.  His daughter, Erica Lynn, preceded him in death.  He is also survived by his grandchildren: Yun-gi Ludwig, Mina Ludwig, and Han-gi Ludwig, of Broomfield CO, and Sarah Bunker and Elisabeth Bunker of Ogden UT.  He is survived by Karen Henson (Bob Pennington), sister-in-law, of Longmont CO.  His nieces and nephews are Morgana Mueser of Cary NC, Rick Westcott of Voorheesville, New York, Donna Mueser Guenther of San Diego, California, Pam DaSilva of Walpole, Massachusetts, and Carol Marti of Raynham, Massachusetts. Another nephew, Jeffrey Mueser Westcott, of Freehold, New York, preceded him in death.

Dick, May the stars light your way to serve forever more, and may you live in the hearts and minds of those who were nurtured by your love, support and attention.

A donation in Dick’s name may be made to: Children’s Hospital Colorado, TRU Community Care, or Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  Thank you for your generosity.

A memorial service will be held at the historic Ryssby Church, 9000 N 63rd St., in Longmont, on Saturday, June 17 at 11:00am.  A reception will follow on the church grounds. This is a non-alcoholic, non-smoking event, honoring the church’s guidelines.

 

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9 thoughts on “Richard Edward “Dick” Mueser”

  1. I love you Dad, thank you for sharing your wisdom with me , thank you for so willingly making me feel like a daughter, and thank you for raising Chris to be such a good man. I’m grateful for you . Though you are so incredibly missed, I’m celebrating your glorious eternity. ????❤️

  2. The “Wizard” shall be missed and remembered for his kindness and loving strengths. The angels have sure gained a great one!
    Seeya on the other side.

  3. We were so blessed to have Dick as part of our Gardens on Quail family. Many prayers for friends and family.

  4. Thank you for the overview of Dick’s full and interesting life. He was a good man. He lived long and he lived well. He will be missed.

  5. I was so fortunate to have met such a wonderful human. I recall comparing notes about our childhoods in NYC. Although a generation ahead of me we had similar memories. I’ll be seeing you again soon as we continue our journey. Until then, I will miss you.

  6. Thank you for the story of Dick’s life. He was a great person, an active citizen and a loving father and husband. I am grateful to have known him and sang many songs with him.

  7. Dick, Thank you for your amazing service to humanity. It was a wonderful to get to know you through your lovely wife, Barb, my permaculture instructor. I remember wonderful visits at your homestead in Boulder county, and I got to visit with you both at your beautiful home on Bainbridge Island.
    Rest in peace Dick. Love you! Namaste and one day we’ll meet again.

  8. Dick, it was a pleasure to have known you and much love to Barb in her next chapter.
    Blessings,
    Marco Lam

  9. I met “dashing Dick” at The Boulder Chill yogurt and ice cream shop in 1997 or 1998. Soon thereafter I met Barb, and she and I became steadfast sisters. It was lovely to be a member of their beautiful tribe. Eventually, I attended personal growth seminars that Dick led.
    What stands out to me about this man is that he chose the path of graciousness and love, when a root of bitterness could have taken hold after so many gut-wrenching losses. Dick lived on the high road, one he walked in the spirit of humility, ever serving, ever encouraging others to rise like eagles into their greatest potential for the betterment of humanity. He was well acquainted with the dark side of life, yet found the means to inhabit a place of gratitude, compassion, humor, wisdom, generosity, and radiance. He wanted to make a difference, and
    he did, and he still does, and he always will.
    Thank you, Dick, for the incomparable gift of your friendship!

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