Louis Frank Mueller

Obituary of Louis Frank Mueller

Louis Frank Mueller was born in St. Louis, Missouri as the first child to the late Louis Frank & Francis May Mueller on May 27, 1931. He grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Normandy High School in 1949. He went on to study at Washington University and graduated in 1954 with an A.B. degree in Physics.

Army Life

Lou served in the U.S. Army from August of 1954 to June of 1956. After completing Basic Training at Camp Chafee, Arkansas, he was assigned to the Ordnance Training Command Liaison Office at the U.S. Army Signal School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Lou served as a Clerk Typist (think Radar O’Reilly in M*A*S*H!), photographer, and sometime projectionist at the base theater. He maintained a keen interest in military affairs, particularly aviation and space, throughout his life.

Work Life

Lou started his professional career in 1956 at Washington University and worked as a Cryogenic Design Engineer which involved RF and control circuitry for helium liquifiers and refrigerators. After a couple of years, he moved to Columbia University Chemistry department where he designed and maintained electronic instruments for the physical chemistry group.

Lou joined Varian (Beverly, MA) precision frequency in 1962, and was heavily involved in their early hydrogen maser and cesium beam tube development projects. Varian Frequency and Time division was then acquired by HP in 1967 and moved to Santa Clara in 1969. Lou was instrumental in transferring the cesium beam atomic clock technology with the HP move.

Lou worked with HP developing what would become the 5061 and later, the 5071A Primary Reference Standard.  Approximately 85% of world time is referenced to this instrument. In the early 2000’s, HP split and the frequency division went to Agilent. Again, Lou helped to ensure continued cesium technology transfer. He got to visit a lot of the world when he attended Frequency conferences.

In 2006, Lou retired, but Agilent sold the 5071A line to Symmetricom (now Microsemi). The success of building, and eventual transfer back to Beverly Microsemi could not have happened without Lou. He was hired back after retiring, as the 5071A “guru” and continued to consult for Microsemi’s Frequency and Time Division on all matters relating to cesium beam physics.

Lou co-authored a number of papers on frequency control and holds three patents: US3364087, US3406353 and US3469207.

The first atomic clocks which referred to NBS 5 Primary Frequency Standards.

https://tf.nist.gov/general/pdf/52.pdf (Page 352 Acknowledgments)

A couple of articles from “Measure” and the “HP Journal”

http://www.hpl.hp.com/hpjournal/pdfs/IssuePDFs/1973-09.pdf (Page 14-23)

http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/publications/measure/pdf/1968_09.pdf (Pg 5-9)

So much of our modern world today relies on Time/Frequency derived from cesium atomic clocks. GPS, the internet and cell phones are good examples which we take for granted. This technology is only possible because of a few very talented individuals and pioneering companies.  “Lou’s vast knowledge and expertise will be missed. Lou had probably forgotten more then I’ll ever know. I only hope I’m able to carry on.” – Armand Martins, Lou’s manager at Symmetricom

Personal Life

Following Lou’s military service, he married Carol Owen Sawyer and together they had four children: Peter (Kris, Thomas, Elisabeth), Leslie (Susan Fey), Hilary (Maureen Lovett), and Christopher (Cheryl Scott). They moved from New York, to Massachusetts, and on to California, settling in Palo Alto.  In 1973, while on loan to the Bureau of Standards in Boulder, CO, Lou met and married his second wife Eddyce, welcoming stepsons Rodney and Gregory to the family. Lou enjoyed many a family get together, from coast to coast. He was grandfather “Grumps” to Thomas, Elisabeth, Mark, and Amy.

If Lou’s professional accomplishments make your head spin, consider what he did for fun…  From shearing sheep to rebuilding engines piece by piece, there really never was a dull moment.  In the 60’s he was baling hay, riding his bike to work with colleagues, helping build a medical clinic for farmworkers, and introducing his family to Niagara Falls, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.   In the 70’s he was learning to fly small planes, flipping houses, playing handball, baking bread, and sewing graduation suit coats. He made time to fly his mother home to St. Louis from California.  The 80’s ushered in two and a half decades of rescuing German shorthaired pointers (GSP’s).  Each GSP was spay/neutered, house and obedience trained, socialized, and matched with a forever home.  Lou and Eddyce would gladly welcome any rescue back when needed (resulting in 5 Mueller dogs for several years!). During a 25-year period they rescued over 700 German shorthairs.  It was truly a labor of love.  Eddyce passed away from cancer in 2006. Their legacy lives on with two remaining GSP rescue chapters in Northern California.

Throughout his life Lou always loved square dancing.  In the 50’s he was a caller for the Lloyd Shaw old time square dances.  In the 70’s he returned to dancing, joining the Bows and Beaus square dance club in Mountain View.  He enjoyed the socializing and learning Modern Western Square Dancing.  After a 30 year lapse he rejoined Bows and Beaus and continued advancing through the square dance levels.  In 2007, at a Saturday night dance in San Jose, Lou met his current partner Barbara-Lynn.  Lou was trying to earn his badge in a more difficult dance (Running Bear) and Barbara-Lynn was just the right partner!  Throughout their years together they added round dancing (pre-choreographed ballroom) and danced 4-6 nights a week and traveled to many weekend festivals.  They shared their love of square and round dancing by substitute and co-teaching classes at various clubs in the area. He was also a member of Top Cats, dancing C2, Star Eights, dancing A2, and Sunnyvale Squares, dancing Plus. He and Barbara-Lynn cued round dancing at the two latter clubs on a weekly basis as well as at several hoedowns and festivals around the area.

Lou and Barbara-Lynn also enjoyed travelling to new places and making new friends.  They had regular RV buddies they met every Christmas in the southern California desert. Another of their favorite destinations was Big Timber, Montana.  They enjoyed the travel, trying new foods, hearing and telling stories, and a good campfire, of course.  Lou’s engineering background made him a great resource on these trips as he could assess an issue quickly and suggest possible solutions.  He always had a technical reference at his fingertips if he didn’t know something off the top of his head. He loved sharing “how things worked” with his RV friends and knew they would in turn share it with others.

Lou passed away February 4, 2018. He is survived by his loving partner, Barbara-Lynn Smith; children Peter Mueller (Kris) of Colorado Springs, CO, Leslie Mueller (Susan) of Madison, WI, Hilary Mueller (Maureen) of Hyannis, MA, Chris Mueller (Cheryl) of Springfield, OR, Rodney Helfrich (June) of San Jose, Gregory Helfrich of Palo Alto; grandchildren, Elisabeth and Thomas Mueller, Mark and Amy Helfrich and one great grandchild, Noah Helfrich. He is also survived by his two sisters, Joan Cawdrey of Mason, OH and Linda Ashford (Dennis) of Lee’s Summit, MO. Lou was pre-deceased by his brother Ken Mueller, first wife, Carol and second wife, Eddyce.

Lou provided a dependable helping hand to many people over the years.  He will be greatly missed. He leaves a giant hole in our hearts and lives, and his vast knowledge, generosity, positivity and loving spirit will be deeply missed.

Friends and family are invited to a visitation on Thursday Feb. 15th 2018 from 3-7 p.m. and a funeral service on Friday, Feb. 16th at 10:00 a.m. at Spangler Mortuary, 399 So. San Antonio Road in Los Altos. Burial to follow at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Salvation Army for our annual Thanksgiving Toy dance (make a note of the square dancers on it or bring it with you if you can come to the services), St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the Shriners.