Frances H. Mueller, a retired educator who had chaired the Bryn Mawr School's English department and also taught at Towson University, died March 24 of complications from dementia at Roland Park Place. She was 94.
Born and raised on her parents' farm in Painesville, Ohio, Frances Heckathorne was a graduate of local public schools.
After earning a bachelor's degree in 1939 from Lake Erie College, Mrs. Mueller taught English from 1943 to 1946 at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa.
While at Penn State, she earned a master's degree in English from Columbia University in 1945, and the next year married William Randolph Mueller, a philosopher, clergyman, literary historian and author.
Mrs. Mueller's husband was on the faculty of Williams College, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before coming to Baltimore in 1960 to join Goucher College's English department, of which he was later chair.
During the years her husband was teaching in Greensboro, Mrs. Mueller was active in the civil rights movement, family members said.
She joined the faculty of Roland Park Country School in 1960, where she taught English until 1964.
Mrs. Mueller taught English for a year at what is now Towson University until joining the Bryn Mawr faculty in 1974, where she taught English.
She later became chair of the English department and was the faculty representative on the board of trustees of the North Baltimore private girls' school for several years.
She retired in 1984 and that year also received the Millicent Carey McIntosh Chair in the Humanities from Bryn Mawr School for outstanding teaching.
"As a person, Frances was a model of integrity and compassion," said Diane B. Levine, a former department chair who now teaches English at Bryn Mawr. "She was one of those people who make clear what her convictions were."
"Frances Mueller was an unforgettable teacher. In her very quiet way, she demanded a new level of maturity from us, both in terms of our behavior and our academic focus," Carrie Armstrong Montague wrote in an email to Bryn Mawr School.
"In return, she offered us insight into the way we wrote and the way we looked at literature that I, for one, have carried with me for thirty years," wrote Ms. Montague.
"Frances was quiet by nature, but you knew she had an active interior life and thought deeply," said Ms. Levine. "She was the model of kindness."
Mrs. Mueller's annual classroom celebrations included William Shakespeare's birthday on April 23.
"She'd bring in a cake that day, and long after her students forgot about the reason why, they still sent her cards on that day," said Ms. Levine.
She was a co-founder in 1975 with her husband of the Humanities Institute, a "continuing-education program initially tailored to women who had finished raising their families," reported The Baltimore Sun at the time of Dr. Mueller's death in 2000.
The Humanities Institute held courses not only in Baltimore, but also conducted literary seminars in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Mrs. Mueller's life was defined by a seemingly restless spirit and quest for adventure and travel.
When she was 25, she earned her pilot's license, completed a solo flight, and never flew an airplane again. She was 70 when she hiked Crete's famous Samaria Gorge.
In addition to travel, the former Bellemore Road resident, who had lived at Roland Park Place for 19 years, enjoyed reading literature and poetry.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. April 27 at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St.
Surviving are a son, William Henry Mueller II of Arlington, Mass.; two daughters, Mary Heckathorne Mueller of Idlewylde and Martha Mueller Cook of Jamaica Plain, Mass.; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun