Theresa McGinnis Mueller, 97 years old, died at Quail Ridge Assisted Living Center in Pocatello, Idaho on Monday, October 3, 2016. Born June 27, 1919 at the tip of the Gaspe’ Peninsula in Chandler, Quebec, Canada to Anne Bernice (Maguire) and Robert McGinnis, she was one of twelve children. Robert and Anne moved with eight-year old Theresa and their nine other surviving children to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1927.
In St. Paul, the French-English speaking Theresa and her siblings formed ties to her mother’s family the Maguires who lived there. The Maguires hailed from County Fermanagh in Ireland and emigrated to the US in the mid-1860s. At the age of sixteen in 1935, Theresa became a naturalized citizen of the United States in St. Paul, Minnesota. Theresa was “Irish bred but Canadian born, an American she chose to be.” (Taken from Allen’s Song by Richard Allen McGinnis.)
She married Francis Mueller at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on April 8, 1943. She is preceded in death by her dearly beloved husband on July 19, 2000 and by her first child, son, James Francis on April 5, 1945. She is survived by one daughter, Mary Margaret Vagner of Pocatello, Idaho and four sons: Charles Francis (Nancy Mueller) of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Paul Bernard (Imelda Mueller) of Monroe Township, New Jersey, Kenneth Peter (Denise Mueller) of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Thomas Patrick of Lisle, Illinois. She is also survived by one sister, Lucy Magdalene Snow of Long Beach, California and by ten grandchildren. She was preceded in her death by five sisters (Margaret Anne, Mary Clare, Margaret Velma, Lenore Ellen, and Margaret Bertha) and by five brothers (George Bernard, Robert Allen, William Ernest, Bernard John, and Thomas).
Fond memories of her early years include the times when her mother would read poetry to “the girls.” Even at the age of ninety-seven, Theresa recited, from memory of her favorite collection of poems, those that brought thoughtfulness, simple joy and delight in humanity. At the passing of her last remaining brother, Thomas, she recalled and recited “The Last Leaf” by Walt Whitman, a poem filled with both humor and reality.
Theresa attended Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota and upon graduation in 1937 was awarded a scholarship to attend nearby St. Catherine’s College. As it was during the Great Depression, Theresa chose to work in support of the family’s finances and was first employed as a secretary by an insurance company in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Introduced by a mutual friend, Theresa met Francis Mueller who was then working for the St. Paul Police Department. Theresa and Francis dated during the early years of World War II. He soon took a job with the Great Northern Railroad in St. Paul which started his life-long career in railroading. In March 1942, Francis enlisted in the US Army at Fort Snelling. Theresa and Francis married at Fort Snelling the following year.
While her husband was in active service in Europe, Theresa gave birth to her first child, son, James Francis. Shortly after the war’s end in 1946, she and her husband moved from St. Paul to Tacoma, Washington where her husband again worked for the Great Northern. She gave birth to her daughter Mary Margaret in 1947. Later that year, she and her family moved to the Midwest to Peoria, Illinois where her husband began a managerial career of thirty-two years with the Peoria and Pekin Union Railroad.
She raised her family in Peoria, and for almost 20 years, resided in West Peoria and was an active member of St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Parish. Once her youngest child, Thomas Patrick, was in grade school, she returned to the work force: first as an agent for the Lincoln Libraries and then as an Administrative Assistant for the Zeller Health Center of the State of Illinois. She retired from the State of Illinois in 1981.
In 1967, the family moved to the Knolls, a subdivision of Peoria, where they lived for thirty-three years. They were members of St. Philomena’s Parish. She was active in the Parish and was a frequent Ecumenical Minister, reading scriptures and distributing Communion at Mass. She was constantly giving back to the community and always had an errand involving a donation to a clothing drive, a Food Bank or another charitable endeavor. She also provided life-long support to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet who were influential in her daughter’s education.
In the early years, the radio was a common source of entertainment for her and her family. She and her husband were avid bridge players and members of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Peoria. They were also members of the Creve Coeur Club, Mt. Hawley Country Club and Willow Knolls Country Club in Peoria.
In 2000, she and her husband moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in proximity to her son Kenneth Peter and daughter-in-law Denise. Her husband, Francis died shortly after their arrival and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. She was an active member of St. Patrick’s Parish in Scottsdale and of the Senior Center in Scottsdale, never passing up a field trip or museum visit. With the fortune of good health, she traveled by herself to visit her family, especially enjoying the ocean-sides of Rocky Point in Mexico and Barnstable on Cape Cod, until she was 92 years of age.
In 2011, she moved to Pocatello, Idaho in proximity to her daughter, Mary Margaret and grandson, James Wesley. She joined Quail Ridge Senior Living Community and continued to play bridge in Pocatello. When asked how she played, her refrain was always, “Some of it was good and some of it was bad,” though she was always delighted when she won. Theresa was an avid reader, especially books related to her Irish heritage. With her daughter Mary Margaret, she attended many Pocatello events at Idaho State University, including concerts, symphony performances, football games, and charity events. She was an invited guest of “the Supper Club,” a group of Pocatello personalities which included her daughter.
As a child of the Great Depression, she was endlessly balancing her checkbook which kept her mind sharp so that she could play bridge.
She was devoted to keeping tabs on her grandchildren, as she was the forever cheerleader for each of them. She dedicated her life to her family and her Catholic Faith.
Theresa Mueller died in her sleep of natural causes. There will be a reception in her honor at Quail Ridge Assisted Living Center on Thursday, October 6th from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. Funeral services in Scottsdale, Arizona will be under the care of Messinger Indian School Mortuary. The visitation for her will be held at 10:00 A.M. with a Funeral Mass to follow at 10:30 both at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 10815 North 84th Street, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85059. Burial services will be held on Tuesday at 9:00 A.M. at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 N. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, Arizona, 85024 where Theresa will be laid to rest alongside her loving husband, Colonel Francis Mueller and her eldest child, James Francis.
Memorials may be sent to the Southeast Idaho Food Bank, 555 S. 1st Ave., Pocatello, Idaho 83201. Friends may share memories and send condolences to the Mueller family by completing the condolence tabs.