Alice Rosetta Mueller was born on a farm near Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. Her father, Edward Otto Mueller, raised pedigreed dairy cattle. Her mother was Bertha Julia Schilling. When she was aged 6, her brother Warren Edward Mueller was born. She attended the public schools of Outagamie County.
She began college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1932. However, she dropped out as her family could not afford it. Meanwhile, in the late 1920s, her father's maiden sisters Hattie and Emma Mueller had been traveling in California and Oregon. Her aunt, Bonita Mueller Hallett, was living in Silverton, Marion, Oregon. Hattie and Emma persuaded their brother Ed to relocate to Oregon.
Ed sold the farm and in 1935 the family made the move to Canby, Clackamas, Oregon. In 1938 Alice re-enrolled in college at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She was an art major with a goal of being an art teacher.
At the university, Alice resided in the women's co-op near campus. Her roommates were Elaine Nelson (later Robe), Elaine's sister Thelma Nelson (later Greenfield), and Betty Hynson (later Cornwell). There Alice met Stanley Linn Robe of Eugene. His brother Carol was dating Alice's roommate, Thelma, and later married Thelma's sister Elaine. Carol and Stanley practiced dancing upstairs in their parents' house. Stanley courted Alice with a romantic gift of fragrant orchids hidden under a park bench.
Alice graduated in 1940 and entered the Master's Degree program at the University of Oregon. She was inspired by the WPA murals in libraries and other public buildings and studied mural painting. However, her advisor died before she could finish the program. She redirected her studies toward the teaching of art in public schools. She taught art in Grants Pass, Oregon and in Salem.
Meanwhile, Stanley was a graduate student in Spanish at the University of Chicago when he was recruited by the O. S. S. in World War II. He was sent to Panama with an intelligence unit in the Canal Zone. He returned to Oregon in 1943 and they were married.
Stanley's work was so top secret that Alice did not hear anything from him. She wrote to his commanding officer and received word that at least he was still alive. When he returned after the war they headed to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he studied for his Ph.D. In his early academic career they lived in postwar government housing near university campuses that was often cramped and lacking in privacy.
Their first trip to Latin America was to Jalisco, Mexico in 1947, where Stanley was doing graduate work in folklore and dialectology. Although Alice spoke no Spanish, she bravely cooked a Thanksgiving turkey in a brick oven with the help of neighbors. She continued working in clay and ceramics.
Stanley took an assistant professor position at UCLA in Los Angeles in 1949. The Robes lived off campus in temporary government housing and later in an apartment on Landfair Ave. In 1951 Robert was born, prematurely. Recovery was difficult. Alice was given barbiturates after the birth that caused her to hallucinate.
The Robes bought a house at 980 Amherst Ave. in West Los Angeles in 1952. In 1955 Margaret was born. In 1961 Stanley brought the whole family to Bogota, Colombia, where he was teaching at the Instituto Caro y Cuervo. After six months the family returned to Los Angeles.
In March 1963 the move was made to a larger house at 979 South Bundy Drive, a few blocks away. Alice maintained her teaching credential and did some substitute teaching. She was very active at Brentwood Presbyterian Church and was on the staff of the nursery school there.
In the summer of 1965 the whole family again spent several months in Latin America, this time in Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. The last time the family moved together was in 1966, where Stanley was teaching summer school at the University of Guadalajara.
As the children matured, Alice spent more time at home and continued teaching nursery school at Brentwood Presbyterian. Occasionally she traveled with Stanley to attend conferences in places like Helsinki, Finland, New Orleans, and Nashville, Tennessee.
They made a trip together for the last time in November 1984 to Death Valley, California. On Thanksgiving night, Nov. 22nd, Alice was stricken with a brain aneurysm at a family gathering in Arcadia, California. She died Nov. 23rd. Because her death was sudden, only her eyes were available for donation. Her remains were cremated and laid to rest in Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia.
Alice's death was a hard blow to her family. Over the years her death on Thanksgiving became significant not as a time to dread but as a time to light a flame of memory and give thanks for her life.
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9SC-Z7R : accessed 22 November 2018), Alice Mueller in household of Edward Mueller, Grand Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 28, sheet 4B, line 64, family 74, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2603; FHL microfilm 2,342,337.
"United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VRRX-P5M : 13 March 2018), Alice Q Mueller in household of Edward O Mueller, Canby, Canby Election Precinct 1, Clackamas, Oregon, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 3-11, sheet 7A, line 16, family 176, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3354.
Death: Los Angeles County Death Certificate. 0190-053331.
No Find a Grave memorial.
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