8:15 Friday night August 1st, 2014.
I got a text message from a friend that Charlie Muller had passed away about an hour ago.
Lots of people in Austin knew Charlie. I knew him as a golfer, a gentleman and a character.
Charlie the Man
Charlie was one of the original IBM employees in Austin. That was when high tech was just beginning here. He helped design, build and run the original IBM facility here in Austin. He was a successful business man.
He and his wife Virginia raised a family and were active members of the community. He loved to fish, hunt and tell stories about his adventures. He enjoyed working with wood and build boats. Don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t perfect but he was way better than most.
Charlie the Golfer –
Charlie became a member of Austin Country Club in 1967. He played golf with his friends for over 40 years. He was opinionated, humorous and constantly seeking a better golf game. He could talk to anyone and make them feel welcome. And, he never hesitated to do so. He was concerned about the state of others and would inquire about their golf game, their day or their general state of mind.
In his later years he was a “range rat”. It was one of the joys in his life. I admired him for his relentless pursuit of improvement at an advanced age. He was inspiring and he was engaged. He had no hesitation about advising Tom Kite and others about how to swing the golf club.
His favorite tactic for getting a free lesson from Tom was to hit balls next to him until Kite could no longer stand the sound of clanking shots. Kite would stop what he was working on, sigh, and say something like “Charlie, you’ve got to move into your right side before you start your downswing”. That would begin a lesson which Tom gave freely, often, and with compassion.
Last summer, when Fred Couples was hanging out at Austin Country Club, Charlie engaged Fred with his humor and questions about golf. It made such an impression on Couples that at a Champions Tour event Couples approached Kite and said “Tell me about this Charlie-guy at ACC. He’s a piece of work”.
We teased Charlie about having to give him the same lesson time after time. We advised him to right it down. But he had other things on his mind.
His beloved Virginia had taken ill and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. A more devoted husband could not be found. He did everything he could to deal with her illness. We suffered with him as he struggled to fix it but he couldn’t. No one could.
So, he would come to the course and hit balls and diligently work on his golf swing at the practice range, visit with us, and play nine holes when time allowed.
After several years of her illness, Virginia died last week. It was too much for Charlie. At 87, he was exhausted. He was admitted to the hospital and died a few days later. That’s today, August 1st, 2014.
I never know what to say or feel about a situation like this. I only know that I felt close to Charlie and that golf was our connection. He loved the game and played it with passion. He was relentless in his pursuit of improvement. And those of us who knew him, will miss him.