Anna I. Mueller's world was defined by her paintings, books, garden and family until Alzheimer's disease forced her into a life of silence.
Mrs. Mueller died of the disease Saturday at Horizon Specialty Center at Canton Harbor in Southeast Baltimore. She was 78 and had lived at the Canton health care facility since 1988. Previously, she was a 40-year resident of Dundalk.
"She was aware that things were happening to her, and she thought she was losing her mind," said a daughter, Stephanie M. Lyon of Columbia. "She began to withdraw, and her way of coping was to stop talking. She didn't want to say something that was embarrassing. We have grieved her loss for many years now."
Mrs. Mueller was 62 when her Alzheimer's was diagnosed at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She and her husband were living in Delta, Pa., having moved there in 1982.
She participated in a research program at Hopkins and, at her death, willed her brain to the medical institution for further study.
Intelligent, inquisitive and determined, Mrs. Mueller decided in the early 1960s to return to school to obtain a high school equivalency degree. She was 50 when she earned an associate's degree from Dundalk Community College.
"She always was a reader and learning to her was very important," Ms. Lyon said, recalling such her mother read such books as Will and Ariel Durant's "The Study of Civilization."
Her mother's interests included history, the arts, yoga and transcendental meditation, the daughter said.
Mrs. Mueller took night classes and began painting when she was in her 40s. She worked in various media, including watercolors, pastels, pencil and oil paints. Her works -- which included still lifes and landscapes -- took first place honors in the 1971 Dundalk Art Show.
She was born Anna Hacker in Hamilton in Northeast Baltimore and attended Eastern High School. She was a hostess in the tea room at Stewart's department store on Howard Street.
In 1941, she married Harry F. C. Mueller, a mechanical engineer. They shared an interest in travel, painting and gardening.
In 1969, they decided to convert the back yard of their Wareham Road rowhouse in Dundalk into a landscaped Japanese garden.
They designed the garden with a tiny pool and on trips to Pennsylvania returned home with their car loaded with flat rocks.
They planted Canadian hemlocks, maple trees, Japanese hollies, few pyracanthas and other evergreens that gave shade and a natural Asian effect.
Mrs. Mueller was a member of Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 3103 Sollers Point Road, Dundalk, where a memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. April 26.
In addition to her daughter and husband, she is survived by two other daughters, Christine A. Dawson of Edgemere and Lisa C. Mikula of Dundalk; a brother, Edward Hacker of Baltimore; a sister, Evelyn Alexander of Bel Air; and six grandchildren.
Pub Date: 4/18/97