Ruth Muehler paid tribute to the people she met in Pacific for inspiring her to work for the past 65 years for local schools, health care, banking, local history and her church.
Mueller gave the short speech as she accepted the Pioneer of Pacific award from the Pacific Area Chamber of Commerce at the April 26 awards banquet at the Pacific Eagles.
Her son Keith Muehler accompanied her to the stage, where he and Larry Carter, emcee, towered over the diminutive recipient as she asked to make a comment.
Muehler came to Pacific in 1947 when she married the late Art Muehler, a World War II veteran and war hero, at a time when living space was scarce.
“When I came here right after the war it was a different place,” she said. “With all the veterans coming home, there were no places to live. We ended up creating an apartment in a barn.”
Despite the living conditions, the young bride pitched in on one community project after another.
Recouping from the shortages during the war, the community was growing in all directions. There was hardly a new service or program that did not show the handprint of the Muehlers.
Pacific was in the process of building a new high school at that time and Muehler became the first president of the Pacific High Band Boosters PTA. The club worked to raise money for new band uniforms. Muehler also served as a Girl Scout leader, Brownie leader and den mother, and was a member of the PTA and a Sports Club officer.
She also participated in a community group that knocked on every door to get the Meramec Ambulance District established. She and her husband helped establish the Pacific Care Center and American Security Bank, now known as BankStar.
By accident, she came across an old shoebox at the Muehler family farm that contained folded, handwritten documents. As she read the snippets of paper, the Muehler family history unfolded, igniting a fascination for genealogy.
Over two decades, she and close friend Sue Reed, retired Pacific librarian, created the core of the Meramec Valley Genealogical and Historical Society archive.
Blessed with a photographic memory, she became the thread that tied the local family history program together and guided genealogy volunteers and family history researchers to the book or file where their ancestor was mentioned.
Muehler has served as an officer of the society for decades.
She is an officer of the history museum and chairman of the Pacific cemetery committee.
She also is a member of the Presbyterian Church, a Sunday school teacher, Bible School leader, Presbyterian Women, a deacon and elder.
Saying people helped her every step of the way, the recipient said any honor bestowed on her belonged to the town and the friends she has made.
“I can tell you that everything that I have done here I have done out of love,” she said. “The people in this community are wonderful.”
On hand watching her accept the award were her son and daughter-in-law, Keith and Valli Muehler, and the couple’s two daughters, Meredith and Ashley Muehler, and Ashley’s fiancé Patrick Sherp.
Muehler was one of seven individuals who received awards for community service.