Published: September 10, 2019
CANAL WINCHESTER, OHIO — Charles “Chuck” Ray Muller, 80, passed away on September 5 from complications of a stroke.
Muller was born in 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended Withrow High School and later the University of Cincinnati where he majored in education. He then entered the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he received his Divinity degree.
During his 40-year career, Charles served at several churches as a pastor. His love for the congregation was always forefront, and he cared for them like family. Chuck touched thousands of lives and was honored to serve Christ and His followers. In 2006, he retired from Hopewell United Methodist Church (Groveport) after 20 years of service. Previously, he ministered at Salem Church (Carroll), Hope UMC (Canal Winchester), Faith UMC (Dayton) and Hunter Community Church (Franklin).
Muller was the editor and co-owner of the Ohio Antique Review for 25 years and was a scholar on Shaker and Soap Hollow furniture. Using 40 articles he had written on the Shaker design, he released his first book, The Shaker Way, in 1979. Five years later, it was followed by The Shaker Chair, which he co-wrote with Timothy D. Rieman. In 2004, Muller released Soap Hollow: The Furniture and Its Makers.
Given his background in faith, a focus on the design of religious communities was fitting. Muller’s first church was on Shaker Road, which led to the former Shaker property at Union Village, Ohio.
Muller took to guest curating two shows during his lifetime: “Ohio Furniture: 1788-1888” at the Columbus Museum of Art in 1984 and “The Shakers: Abiding Inspiration in Faith and Design” at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in 2009.
Antiques and The Arts Weekly was fortunate to have Chuck Muller write for us on Shaker subjects, his last article appearing in the August 2, 2019, issue covering the July 2019 Willis Henry Shaker sale. Chuck began his article by harkening back to the way it was in 1982. He could have certainly gone back further. He donated his writer’s fee to the Brenda Muller Scholarship Fund, a scholarship he set up in his wife’s name that awards money to college students pursuing a Master’s of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS).
Writer colleague at the Ohio Antique Review and longtime friend Fran Kramer said, “He was a friend’s friend. He set an example in today’s world. He was the most unselfish person I’ve ever met, always, always thinking of other people. His family and his friends were very fortunate to have known him for as long as we all did. He was genuine and a real gentleman. And his knowledge of many areas, Shaker and Soap Hollow furniture, was extraordinary. He was really a giant.”
Principal auctioneer and chief executive officer of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers Jeff Jeffers said, “He was a prince of a guy. I met him in my first year in the business about 25 years ago, and he remained a friend. I remember him being so excited to give me updates about [his grandson] Joseph and the things they were doing. He was very committed to that relationship, and I admired it. And he had this very interesting — I’m sure borne from his time as editor of the OAR — but he had this direct sense about communication. And I liked it, and I embraced it. You knew what he was there for, and you knew what he wanted to know.”
Auctioneer Wes Cowan wrote, “For those of you who knew him, I’m sure you’ll mourn his passing. He was a profoundly good and generous person. He held my hand many times in my unsteady beginnings, and then continued to share his knowledge with young Cowan’s employees… I last saw Chuck in November 2018, when Andrew Richmond and I had lunch with him in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, Chuck didn’t mention any health problems but wanted to talk about organizing an online compendium of the information he has assembled about Ohio furniture makers.”
Dealer Kelly Kinzle said, “I was very fond of Chuck and saddened by the news. He was always very giving with his knowledge. And he found me one of the best pieces of Soap Hollow furniture I have ever owned. We will miss him.”
Shaker dealer Tom Queen said, “I don’t know how or when I first met Chuck Muller, but we were compadres in the “Shaker world” for a very long time. As editor of the Ohio Antique Review, Chuck was well-known throughout the Midwest for his journalistic endeavors, and he was seen frequently at shows and auctions in the good old days of the business. That is very likely how we first met. I was fortunate to work closely with Chuck when he asked me to design the exhibition at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in 2009. We both shared a love for Shaker design and a great respect for their many accomplishments, especially their forward-thinking attitudes about social progress. It was always great to receive one of Chuck’s jokes in my email box. We only recently corresponded when he ran the draft past me for the article he was writing for The Bee about the most recent Willis Henry Shaker Auction. Even at 80, he was still chugging along faster than many folks half his age. He was one of the good guys, and I’m going to miss him.”
LaGina M. Austin, senior appraiser at Skinner Inc, said “Chuck was one of the most caring people I knew, always looking out for other people. I met Chuck in 1998, when he hired me as an editor for the Ohio Antique Review. While there, I learned so much from Chuck. He freely shared his knowledge of all things Shaker, Soap Hollow and ice cream. (Luckily, Antique Review’s offices were down the street from Graeter’s.) When the Antique Review closed, Chuck helped me get my next job at Garth’s by putting in many good words and letters. Then, when I moved to Massachusetts in 2003 and was looking for a job, I received an email one day from Chuck. It was an ad in The Bee about a job opening in the Americana department at Skinner. I applied and got the job. Shortly after starting, Karen and Steve told me that Chuck had called them to say that “the person they should hire is already in Massachusetts,” which is why they interviewed me. Thanks Chuck. That was 16 years ago. While working in the Americana department, I knew I could always call Chuck if I had any Soap Hollow or Shaker questions. We kept in touch over the years and would see each other when he came to the New Hampshire shows. I will definitely miss him.”
Of his marriage to Brenda, his wife of 37 years who passed way in 2015, the family said it was “an inspiration for all who knew them.”
Charles was preceded in death by his parents, Christian and Juanita (Todd) Muller; his wife, Brenda Gale (Evers) Muller; his son, James Green; and his brother, Joseph Muller. He is survived by his children, Randy Green, Rusty (and Pam Potts) Green, and Heather (and Bill Fecke) Muller; his grandchildren, Drayton (and Brittney) Green, Reade Green, Sarah Yantis, Joshua Green, Jimmy Green, and Joseph Green; and several great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Brenda Muller Scholarship Fund (c/o Columbus Foundation, 1234 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43205) or the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio (Attn: Development Department, 711 East Livingston Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43205).
Celebration of his life will be on October 6 at 4 pm at Hopewell United Methodist Church, 4348 London-Lancaster Road, Groveport, Ohio. Visitation will precede the service from 2 to 4 pm and afterwards.
Arrangements entrusted to The Spence-Miller Funeral Home, Grove City, Ohio, where online condolences may be made at www.spencemillerfuneralhome.com.
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