A TRIBUTE TO LOIS JANE MUELLER, 1933-2019
We at the Missouri Folk Arts Program are saddened to learn from Barry Bergey that master quilter Lois Mueller died on Wednesday, December 4, 2019. Formerly of St. Louis, the Muellers relocated to New Haven in the Missouri River Valley to establish their Röbller Vineyard in 1988, first vintage in 1990. She never stopped quilting.
Mrs. Mueller was a master quilter in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in 1989 with apprentice Susan Gillespie and again in 1990 for applique quilting with apprentice Debbie Ruppel Wagenseller. Before her participation in TAAP, Lois and Bob Muller actively worked with the all-volunteer non-profit Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts on various projects, including the annual Frontier Folk Festival under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, where Lois could be found demonstrating her quilting expertise. When the festival featured an architectural theme, she and several quilters finished a log cabin quilt on a frame under a festival tent. Basketmaker Everette Westfall won the quilt in that year’s festival raffle.
Like most quilters, Lois quilted for family and special occasions [we’ve learned she created a quilt for a son featuring a compass, before he left home for college*]. Lois quilted solo, with guilds, and with (or for) friends, including a 1979 quilt with the acclaimed St. Louis quilt scholar Cuesta Benberry (1923-2007), whose extensive research and personal quilt collection is housed at Michigan State University Museum.
In 2015, Lois Mueller graciously agreed to participate in one of MO Folk Arts’ 30th anniversary events for the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. She, Bob, and their daughter arrived for set-up, with a selection of beautiful finished quilts, a quilted banner representing the vineyard, and a work in progress in Lois’ quilt hoop. Throughout the day, Lois engaged visitors, too, with a hands-on activity. She provided quilt squares, needles, and thread for anyone to try. Girls and boys of all ages, as well as adults, often sat down and listened attentively as Lois guided them through several stitches.
[Click on images below to expand to full size.]
Most recently, the Muellers have welcomed dozens of guests to reunions of the Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts over Labor Day weekends in 2018 and 2019 at the Vineyard. Her finished quilts hung for all to admire along one wall, while quilted banners adorned the walls of the meeting room. When MO Folk Arts director Lisa Higgins asked Lois this past September, “are you still quilting?” Lois replied without hesitation “oh, yes!”
Sadly, we now must extend our condolences to the Mueller family and so many friends, who (like us) held Lois dear.
*Thanks to Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts’ alum Jane Vidrine for sharing that quilt story on Facebook.