Philip Robert Mueller passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 after a five and a half year battle with colon cancer.
Phil was born July 1, 1943 in Minneapolis, MN and grew up in Denver, CO. He was the only child of Robert Frederick Mueller and Marjorie Evelyn Nelson.
Phil developed a love of broadcasting at an early age, working part-time jobs at three radio stations while in high school. In his first real job at KLAK Radio in Lakewood, CO, a disk jockey showed him the controls, and the tape recorders and what they did, and he was hooked.
Phil developed an interest in news and over a long and storied career, he was a reporter, news editor, news director, operations manager, news correspondent, and/or consultant at a number of major market stations, including: KIMN Radio, Denver, CO; KAYQ Radio, Kansas City, MO; KSL Radio and Television, Salt Lake City, UT; Bonneville International News Bureau, Washington, DC; KMBX/KMBR Radio, Kansas City, MO; WOAI Radio, San Antonio, TX; and KHOW Radio, Denver, CO.
Phil had a brilliant mind, and he loved chasing a story. A fellow television journalist said he never saw anyone who could deliver a better “stand up” on camera, without notes, than Phil Mueller.
Phil married Mary Karen Wagnon in 1966 and joined the Air National Guard as an Information Specialist that same year. His unit, the 120th Tactical Fighter Group, was activated in January, 1968 during the Pueblo Crisis.
Phil was assigned to the 5th Air Force Headquarters in Tokyo, where he served for two years as a sergeant. He received an Honorary Discharge from the Air Force Reserves in 1972.
Phil and Karen joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while living in Denver. They later divorced.
Phil married his eternal sweetheart, Mary Lou Cook Hart, in the Manti Temple on September 15, 1979. Over the years, a blended family of his, hers and ours—became “theirs”.
In 1987, Phil formed a family corporation and purchased radio station KUTA in Blanding, UT. Phil loved operating KUTA as the “Voice of the Canyonlands,” serving the communities of Blanding and Monticello.
In 2002, a poor economy forced Phil to sign off for the last time, which was not only devastating for him, but also for his many loyal listeners. Within days he was selling advertising for KCYN/KCPX Radio in Moab, UT, and not long after, Phil became general manager.
He enjoyed his 150 mile round-trip commute because it gave him time to think, especially because at 2:30 a.m. when he left for work, there was little to no traffic.
Phil typically worked 14 to 15 hour days and had no intention of retiring—ever. But on Monday May 2, after a long day, a trip to the emergency room confirmed that he would never return, despite his incredible determination.
Phil loved people. No matter how sick or weak he was, he became animated whenever there was someone to talk to, friend or stranger.
He was a great influence in many lives for his strong testimony, his positive approach to life, and his determination to never give up.
He was the ultimate optimist and rarely complained about his failing health. He was a humble man and could not understand why people often referred to him as their “hero”.
He cared deeply about his faithful coworkers at KCYN/KCPX, past and present, who continued to pitch in because of their loyalty and love for Phil.
Phil received many awards and recognitions over the years, and provided much public service. In 1977, he was elected treasurer of the National Radio and Television News Directors Association and was honored with a lifetime membership.
In 2000, he received the Journalist Advocate Award for KUTA News Radio by the Region VIII Small Business Administration. He served on the board of the Utah Broadcasters Association.
Phil was a founding member of the San Juan Economic Development Board, serving for many years, including three years as chair.
He was a member of the Canyonlands Region Travel Council for 20 years.
Phil was a member of the Moab Rotary Club, and was elected to the board of the Moab Chamber of Commerce in 2004; he was elected as vice-president and elected as president twice.
Phil was named 2011 Citizen of the Year in Moab—even though he never lived there, and was recognized in 2015 for his “many years of dedicated service to the Moab Chamber of Commerce and the Moab business community.”
Phil is survived by his loving eternal companion of nearly 37 years, Lou, and his children: John (Alison) Mueller, Jeff (Jen) Hart, Adam (Heather) Mueller, Elizabeth (Brandon) Weilenmann, Rebecca Mueller Kirby, Mark (Cassie) Mueller, and 27 grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by two daughters, Stacey Mueller (Dave) Call and Jennifer Hart, and daughter-in-law Lisa (John) Mueller.
Funeral services were held in Blanding, UT on May 25, 2016.
Online condolences may be shared at San Juan Mortuary