Lill and Ernie Mueller came from humble origins and learned early on that hard work, grit and a little luck could be a ticket to a better life, a common dream in the Chicago working-class neighborhood where they grew up.
The tough row they hoed also planted seeds of generosity, which today are bearing fruit as they share their good fortune with others.
“We’ve always thought that helping people is the best thing you can do,” said Mr. Mueller, who began doing chores at age five for his grandmother who ran a boarding house for coal miners.
The Muellers have helped countless people in the northwest valley through contributions to Sun Health Foundation. Their most recent gift will benefit cancer patients receiving radiation treatments at Banner M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Radiation Oncology facility, located on the Banner Boswell Medical Center campus in Sun City.
Sun Health Foundation provides philanthropic support to Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers and the Banner Sun Health Research Institute, as well as several community wellness programs offered by Sun Health.
At age 16, Mr. Mueller met Lill, then 14, at a roller skating rink and they eventually married and started a family. After years of working for others, they opened their own air-conditioning and heating company in North Chicago, building it into a successful business over 30 years before selling it and retiring to Arizona.
The Muellers were smart with their earnings yet also happy to share it with others in need. They passed these traits on to their son and daughter, now grown and success stories in their own right. Their son, in particular, has done well in business and has emulated their generosity.
The gift to the radiation oncology program had personal meaning for Ms. Mueller, who was diagnosed with breast cancer more than 10 years ago. She had surgery and radiation treatments and knows how tough it can be on patients.
“It’s a miracle we have this,” she said after touring the radiation oncology center. “Think of all the people this can help.”
Earlier this month, the radiation oncology center hosted a small reception for the Muellers, which included the unveiling of a plaque recognizing the couple for their gift.
“On behalf of all the people you will help, we can’t say ‘thank you,’ enough,” said radiation oncologist Jeffrey Richmond, M.D., who works at the center.
Over the past 16 years, the Muellers have made several major gifts to Sun Health Foundation in support of local health care programs and services.
“The Mueller’s’ generosity is remarkable and has helped countless people lead healthier and fuller lives,” said Sharon Thornton, chief philanthropy officer for Sun Health Foundation.
Editor’s Note: John C. Tucker is public relations specialist for Sun Health.