MULLER--John H., Jr. Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, John H. Muller, Jr., (Jack) resident of New Canaan, CT and devoted husband of recently deceased Marie (Taffy) Sisk Muller, died on March 18, following complications from a stroke. Muller resided in Darien, CT for 42 years prior to his move to New Canaan in 2005. Born in West Orange, NJ on May 17, 1924 to the late John H. Muller and Adelaide Hannon, Muller attended Princeton University prior to serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He received a BS in Engineering from Cornell University, an MBA from Harvard Business School (infamous class of '49) and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Babson College. Muller began his successful career with R.H. Macy & Company and General Foods Corporation (KRAFT) in senior marketing and merchandising positions. With his business background and strong entrepreneurial instincts, he founded General Housewares Corporation in 1969 with the financial backing of Laird & Co., a pioneering, New York-based private investment banking firm. Under Muller's leadership, General Housewares became a leading manufacturer in the housewares industry, competing in a variety of categories, including recognized brands, like OXO kitchen gadgets, Chicago Cutlery and Colonial Candle of Cape Cod. By 1982, Muller had grown General Housewares to the point of becoming a New York Stock Exchange company. Muller served as Chairman of the Board and CEO from 1969-1995 and remained on the Board of Directors until 2000 when the company was acquired by KKR, a prominent private equity firm. An active business leader, Muller was a Director at several other NYSE companies, including Capital Cities/ABC (Disney), Collins & Aikman and Sea-Land Corporation. For 35 years, Muller devoted most of his philanthropic efforts to Babson College, beginning when his son enrolled there as an undergraduate. He was Chairman of the Board for 10 years and a driving force in spearheading a capital campaign, raising over $122 million supporting facility, faculty and curriculum development . Babson is now ranked as the #1 college in entrepreneurial studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, as evaluated by U.S. News & World Reports and The Wall Street Journal. Other charitable interests included serving as Director of St. Joseph's Hospital in Stamford, CT and supporting the Boy Scouts of Connecticut, Alzheimer's Association, Harvard Business School and both of Mitt Romney's Presidential campaigns. Muller, an outstanding father and role model, is survived by his three children, Marie Elliott of Stoughton, MA, Ann Powers of Milford, CT and Stephen Muller of Washington, DC; two grandchildren John and Charlie Muller and one sister, Mary Roller of Marion, MA. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations should be directed to: The John H. Muller Memorial Fund, Babson College Alumni Hall, Babson Park, MA 02457. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30am on Friday, March 28 at Saint Thomas More Church, 374 Middlesex Road in Darien, CT. Interment will be private.
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Published in The New York Times on Mar. 26, 2014