Catherine Mueller, political activist

June 29, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Catherine Young Mueller, a co-founder of the Democratic Ladies Guild, a Baltimore political organization, died June 14 of complications from lymphoma at the Meridian Nursing Center in Randallstown. She was 80.

Mrs. Mueller and three other freshman classmates at what was then Morgan State College founded the guild in 1948 as an outgrowth of the Monumental Democratic Club. They wrote in the guild's preamble that its purpose was to "accept the challenge to work through the political and civic dimension to improve the quality of life in our society."

The guild also conducted voter registration drives and, at one jTC time, operated a summer camp for disadvantaged children.

"She was extremely helpful to me when I was running for the City Council," said Thomas J. S. Waxter Jr., a lawyer and former three-term councilman who represented the 5th District.

"She was sort of a mother to Baltimore City political people," Mr. Waxter said. "She was always very supportive and had a rich life in terms of her relations with people. I'm not sure I could have gotten elected without her help. She was a grand lady."

In recalling Mrs. Mueller's commitment to black and white candidates, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said, "She could see beyond color. Race was never a question in who she decided to help. She helped those she felt were interested in the community, who cared about the community. She was a longtime friend and used to give advice -- both asked for and not asked for."

In a celebrated incident in 1968, Mrs. Mueller resigned from a city grand jury. "The grand jury seems to be a force and an instrument of injustice, and there is strong evidence that the grand jury is unconstitutionally constituted. There is a definite bias in the way cases are presented, with heavy evidence in noting the race of the accused," she explained to The Sun.

"I am also aware that all race and age groups are not represented on the panel. Most of the members of this highly conservative group are in their late 50s or late 60s. There are 23 members. Only three are Negroes. . . . These bigot-biased people represent the reactionary and the nonidealistic element of our community."

Born and reared in Baltimore, Mrs. Mueller was a longtime resident of the 3700 block of Callaway Ave. in the Ashburton section. She was a graduate of Douglass High School and attended Morgan State, Coppin State College, the Cortez Business School and St. John's College.

Known as "Kitty" or "Duchess," she was remembered by India Artis, a longtime friend, as "very elegant -- truly one of a kind. People used to drive by her house to see who she was supporting for office because she always had the biggest signs in the neighborhood."

"We will remember Kitty as a champion in the civil and political arena, a lover of people and a proud example of social consciousness in her community," Miss Artis said.

Mrs. Mueller operated Mueller's Public Relations for many years. She was active in numerous organizations, including the Metropolitan Civic Council of Walbrook, the Callaway-Garrison Improvement Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Governor's Commission on Crime and the Administration of Justice.

She was recognized for her work by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mayors Theodore R. McKeldin and Thomas D'Alesandro II.

In 1968, she was given a Distinguished Citizen Award by Gov. J. Millard Tawes.

Mrs. Mueller was a breeder of poodles and was a familiar sight sitting on her porch surrounded by her dogs.

Her marriage to John Mueller ended in divorce in 1955.

Services will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium at NAACP national headquarters, 4805 Mount Hope Drive, Baltimore.

There are no immediate survivors.

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