Dr. Stephen Edwin Muller, 90, Mercy Hospital internist who collected and raised rare hollies

January 31, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Stephen Edwin Muller, a retired internist who collected rare holly trees and planted them at his Bradshaw farm, died there Wednesday. He was 90 and had been in ill health since surgery last summer.

Dr. Muller was an internist for more than 40 years before retiring in the late 1980s from Mercy Hospital. He had also been chief of the hospital's private medical service.

"He was a superb diagnostician who was extremely kind and a gentleman in every respect," said Dr. Joseph Mead, a former internist and vice president at Mercy.

Dr. Muller was born, raised and lived his life on the Bradshaw farm that had been in his family since the 1800s. He was a graduate of Bel Air High School and the old Towson State Normal School in 1927.

He was a teacher and principal of Long Green Elementary School from 1927 until 1931, when he decided to study medicine.

He was a 1937 graduate of the University of Maryland Medical School and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Mercy.

During World War II, Dr. Muller joined the University of Maryland 42nd General Hospital Unit and was sent to the Pacific.

He was discharged in 1946 as a major, having won the Bronze Star and four campaign stars.

In addition to being an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, he was a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a fellow and life member of the American College of Physicians. He was a founding member of the Maryland Society of Internal Medicine and a member of the Baltimore City Medical Society, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland and the American Medical Association.

It was at his farm in Bradshaw that Dr. Muller, a robust, quiet and studious man, exercised his penchant for exotic trees and flowers.

"It was a very serious hobby with him," said Susan Alderman, a niece.

"He had a longtime friendship with Henry Hohman, former owner of the Kingsville Nursery, who taught him how to propagate plants," said Bill Troy, a nephew who lives in Baldwin.

Dr. Muller used his farm as an incubator for his plants and trees and created a formal garden in front of his house.

His collection included several varieties of magnolias and such horticultural curiosities as tri-color beech trees and Sir Harry Lauder Walking Sticks, a small, gnarled tree named for the popular Scottish singer.

"My uncle's collection eventually grew to include more than 200 mature American, Japanese, English and Chinese hollies as well as boxwoods," Mr. Troy said.

He also became so knowledgeable about holly trees that he was asked to advise Jacqueline Kennedy on the White House garden rTC and planted several holly trees there, Mr. Troy said.

His favorite was the American holly, which he admired for its leaves and its resistance to diseases and pests.

"He said the thing about American holly is that it lives a long time and he admired its longevity," said the nephew.

As a child, he planted near his house an American holly seedling known as Ilex Opaca that is in the "International Listing of Ilex," bears his name and has been widely propagated, Mr. Troy said.

The tree, which produces a red berry, is more than 80 years old and about 30 feet tall, Mr. Troy said.

Dr. Muller was known for the great boughs of holly he brought each Christmas to the Sisters of Mercy at the hospital and to St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, where he was a longtime communicant.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 1 p.m. today at St. Stephen, 8030 Bradshaw Road in Bradshaw.

Dr. Muller, is survived by two sisters, Blanche Muller Troy and Marion B. Muller, both of Bradshaw; and many nieces and nephews.

Pub Date: 1/31/98

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