C. John Muller was born in 1908 in the Brewerytown section of Philadelphia, where most people in the neighborhood, including John’s family, was long associated with brewing beer. In the 1800’s his father, godfather and uncle all delivered beer in horse-drawn wagons. He quickly followed in the family footsteps, riding on a horse-drawn wagon on Saturdays.
Prohibition was a very difficult time for the Muller family, so at the age of 14 John found a job in the National Umbrella Factory at the corner of Myrtlewood and Thompson Streets. Later in life when his colleagues cited the U of P and UCLA as their alma maters, John would mention he was an alumnus of N.U.F. He continued employment in the same area and worked at the local hosiery mill, eventually becoming a shop steward and later a General Manager for the company.
During these years, he met and married fellow Brewerytown resident Josephine Alt.
In 1938, John founded the Holmesburg Beer Distributing business. He moved from Brewerytown to a new neighborhood at 11th and Lehigh. In 1943, at age 35, he was drafted into the Navy forcing him to sell his business and leave his wife Josephine behind.
In the Navy, he was assigned to a LST (Landing Ship Tank), where he distinguished himself in the invasion of Mindora Island in the Philippines in 1944 for which he received six island invasion battle stars. In addition, he was awarded a medal for bravery in repelling direct and severe aerial attacks on his vessel.
Upon his discharge from the service in 1945, with $10 in his pocket, he returned to his hometown and again went back into the beer business. He was employed at Bantam Beer where he worked for Paul Romozer. Their company was the distributor of Goebel Beer for the Philadelphia area. John had an opportunity to purchase the franchise and merge with another beer icon, John Clement who was the original supplier of Miller Beer. In 1956, they formed Clement & Muller, and a few years later John borrowed money from his family to purchase the business where his lovely wife Josephine became the treasurer and bookkeeper. The new company, located at 21st & Allegheny, in an 11,000 square foot facility had six employees and sold a remarkable amount of beer for such a small company.
By 1976, Clement & Muller as it was known then moved to its present location on Grant Avenue. During the 1980s Clement & Muller expanded dramatically, and sales routinely exceeded 10 million cases annually. As John’s success grew, so did his commitment to community involvement and philanthropy. He was an active member of the German Society, Vesper Club, Alpha Club, LuLu Temple, and Masonic-E. Coppee Mitchel Lodge, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA Manufacturers Association, Committee of 70, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Locust Club. In later years he received the Cross of Germany Bundesverdienstrkreuz. This community involvement culminated in 1979, when Jack became of member of The Union League of Philadelphia.
In 1986, Josephine succumbed to the ravages of A.L.S, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When Josephine passed away, as a memorial to her, John built a wing at the Chandler Hall Nursing Home in Newtown for those suffering with A.L.S.
During the time Josephine was ill her companion was Sandy Robinson. John, Josephine and Sandy formed a bond that when she passed away her heartfelt wish was that Sandy stay on to care for her dear husband. John and Sandy were married in 1987 at Olivet Covenant Presbyterian Church back in Brewerytown where John was a trustee and one of the oldest members of the congregation. During their marriage Sandy, as Josephine did, joined John in their business selling beer. Together in 2000, following the Muller tradition, they made a gift to Abington Hospital which created The C. John Muller Center for Senior Health. Sandy continues to run the daily business at Muller, Inc. along with her children and grandchildren and many long time employees.
John continued his generous philanthropy in honoring Josephine by providing funds for an auditorium and cafeteria at Abington Friends School, and through generous contributions to German Society. Sandy supported him in his manifold activities and guided him in his continued commitment to enrich the community in which they lived.
In 2001, at the age of 92, John Muller passed to his eternal reward. He lived by a motto well known by the Clement & Muller family of employees and the German Community:
“Do your giving while you’re living so you’ll be knowing where it’s going”
In 2010, Muller Inc., The Muller Foundation, Sandy and her children made a leadership gift to the Union League Anniversary Campaign, naming the office of the executive director, “The C. John Muller Executive Office”. This gift is yet another legacy of John Muller.