Joseph Mullan, a retired Baltimore businessman whose quest for a wife attracted international attention, died Saturday at St. Joseph Medical Center after suffering a heart attack. He was 77.
Last August, on the front lawn of his home in the 200 block of Northway in Guilford, Mr. Mullan installed a 6-by-6 sign that read: "Wanted A WIFE! Picture & Performance to Joseph Mullan -- Apply Within."
His wife of 51 years, the former Getty Dutrow, died in 1992.
The sign not only attracted the attention of his neighbors in the posh North Baltimore neighborhood but also that of at least 200 applicants from three countries, who flooded his mailbox with resumes and lined up at his front door.
"My wife was a good girl. When you have something good and you lose it, you want to replace it," Mr. Mullan said in a 1994 interview in The Sun.
Despite worldwide media coverage, he pronounced his search a failure when he realized the woman he really wanted was his late wife.
"He was an eccentric. He always has been a character," said a daughter, Peggy Greenman of Towson.
Mr. Mullan retired in 1985 as chairman of the board of the Joseph Mullan Co., an apartment management and development firm, which he established in 1971.
"He was a very unusual person who was a pretty good businessman, and didn't spend much time at it. He spent 90 percent of his time on his hobbies" of electronics, photography and cabinetmaking, said J. Harold Grady, former Baltimore mayor and retired chief judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court.
The son of Thomas F. Mullan Sr. and Clementine L. Mullan was born and raised in Mount Washington. He attended four high schools before graduating, according to his daughter, and attended Loyola College where he met his wife at a dance and proposed to her the same night. They were married in 1941.
Mr. Mullan, who bred and raced pigeons, joined the Army during World War II and served at Fort Meade with his pigeons, which were used as messengers.
After he was discharged in 1945, he worked for the Mullan Contracting Co., which his father had founded in 1904 to haul debris from the Baltimore Fire that destroyed much of downtown.
In 1946, he founded the Champion Brick Co. in the 7600 block of Pulaski Highway, which he sold in 1966.
"He liked describing himself as nothing more than a brick maker," Mrs. Greenman said.
"He was so proud of the fact that more than 3 million of his bricks were in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, and after Sunday dinner he would drive us all over town pointing out the jobs that were using his bricks," said his daughter.
Mr. Mullan was a past president of the Baltimore League for Crippled Children.
A Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 10 a.m. today at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
Other survivors include three sons, Victor J. Mullan of Sparks, Donald G. Mullan of Sperryville, Va., and Robert J. Mullan of White Hall; five other daughters, Patricia Kammer of Stoneleigh, Tina Albright of Easton, Kathleen Harrison of St. Michaels, Joanne Miller of Monkton and Jane Weisgerber of Sperryville; a brother, Charles A. Mullan of Delray Beach, Fla.; a sister, Louise M. Flanigan of Guilford; and 20 grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Mullan Family Scholarship Fund of Notre Dame Preparatory School, 815 Hampton Lane, Towson 21286; or the American Radio Relay League, 225 Main St., Newington, Conn. 06111-1494.