Dr. Muller is a native of Dillon, South Carolina. He graduated from the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and received his B.S. degree from The Citadel in 1940 and his M.D. degree from Duke University in 1943. He completed his graduate education in surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore under Dr. Alfred Blalock. He was married to Hildwin Clare Headley of Baltimore, a graduate of the University of Maryland and a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital, in 1946. The Mullers have three children, Marietta Clare, William Henry, III, and John Lewis, and nine grandchildren. Dr. Muller served in the U.S. Army in 1946 and 1947. He returned to Johns Hopkins in 1948 and completed his general and cardiovascular surgical residencies there. He was invited by Dr. William Longmire, the new Chief of Surgery at UCLA with whom he had served on the housestaff at Johns Hopkins, to Los Angeles to help build a new medical school. He served for a period of time as Chief of General Surgery and developed a cardiothoracic surgical program in the Harbor General Hospital and the St. John’s Hospital because the UCLA Hospital had not yet been completed. There he developed the pulmonary artery banding procedure and applied it clinically. He was appointed Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Virginia in 1954 and over the ensuing several years developed one of the first complete aortic valve prostheses.
Dr. Muller was one of the founders of the Association for Academic Surgery, and has served as President for the Society of University Surgeons, the Society for Vascular Surgery, the Southern Surgical Association, and the American Surgical Association. He also served as Vice Chairman of the American Board of Surgery. He became a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons in 1971, was made Chairman of the Board in 1976, and was President-elect in 1978. He served as President of the College in 1979-1980. Dr. Muller served as an active member of the Executive Committee from 1974 until 1987. He is currently an Emeritus Member. He received one of the first Distinguished Medical Alumni Awards in 1969. He also received honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from the Citadel in 1972, and Doctor of Humane Letters from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1977. He was made a member of the Society of Scholars of Johns Hopkins in 1979, and was selected for the Thomas Jefferson Award by the University of Virginia in 1982.
In the year following Dr. Muller’s arrival in Charlottesville, two chief residents in general surgery completed their residencies. During the ensuing years this number expanded to four in general surgery and one in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery.
Dr. Muller retired from the Faculty of the University of Virginia in 1990. Dr. Muller and Hillie moved to Irvington, Virginia in 2008.
Sadly, Dr. Muller passed away on April 19, 2012 after a serious illness. His example of visionary leadership, sound academic judgment, and commitment to family and friends will be missed by all of us in the Society, and throughout the surgical world.