Monday, November 8, 2010



        Alice met C.H. Mullen in freshman rhetoric class at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
        Alice was a piano major, studying with Jan Chiapusso, and C.H. was earning his degree in
        political science and pre-law.  They were married in 1942, and moved to Washington, D.C.
        where C.H. served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

        After WWII, C.H. completed his law degree at the University of Michigan.  Wanting to
        remain in the Midwest, Alice and C.H. looked at a number of cities and states before
        choosing Kalamazoo, Michigan, as the ideal place to settle down and raise a family.
        They were impressed with the cultural scene, higher education, and a "blue chip"
        business climate.  Kalamazoo became their town.

        C.H. joined the law firm of Joe Crum and Glenn Allen, Jr., in 1947.  The law offices were
        located on the top floor of the Kalamazoo Building downtown.

        Alice and C.H. got to know their fellow Kalamazooans by joining service clubs and becoming
        members of the First Presbyterian Church.

        By the mid-1950s, Alice started getting calls from the Kalamazoo Symphony to play piano,
        celeste and harpsichord parts when needed.  She became Principal Keyboard officially in
        1955 under the baton of Dr. Herman Felber Jr.  During her career with the orchestra, Alice
        was featured as a concerto soloist on six different occasions, starting in 1957.

        During her nearly forty years with the Kalamazoo Symphony, she played under Herman
        Felber, Gregory Millar, Pierre Hétu and Yoshimi Takeda.

        Alice also gave private piano lessons for many years, and accompanied music students
        from Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College.

        C.H. quickly gained a foothold in the community and made headlines.  In 1952, he
        singlehandedly diverted Eisenhower's presidential campaign train to make an un-
        scheduled whistle stop in Kalamazoo.

        C.H. was active in the Jaycees, the Kiwanis Club and the First Presbyterian Church.
        He acted in plays at the Civic Theatre, and starred in American Legion variety shows
        with fellow lawyers.  He served as Vice-Mayor on the Kalamazoo City Commission
        from 1961 to 1963, and for two years on the Kalamazoo County Board of Supervisors.

        He was hired away from the law firm in 1957 by the First National Bank and Trust Co.
        C.H. became a trust officer and a vice-president.  C.H. returned to law later in life when
        he received a gubernatorial appointment to the bench of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court to
        fill a vacancy.  He then ran for another term and won.  He was circuit judge from 1977-1987.

Visit Judge Mullen's new blog!
Remembering Judge Mullen
From Kansas to Kalamazoo
A Tribute to C.H. Mullen


        Being involved in community affairs was a labor of love for Alice and C.H., and they served
        on the advisory boards of a variety of organizations over the years.  They were both KSO
        board members, and were later elected board chairmen, serving separate terms.  Alice was
        the first woman to become chairman of the symphony board after KSO founder Leta Snow.

                                         Alice and C.H. at the American Symphony Orchestra
                                         League Convention in 1960 in St. Louis. The were on
                                         the KSO's Conductor Selection Committee when Gregory
                                         Millar was hired.
          In 1987, Alice and C.H. Mullen were co-recipients of the Red Rose Citation from
          the Kalamazoo Rotary Club for 'their devotion to the community's cultural, legal and
          educational excellence'.  Alice won the Community Medal of Arts Award in 1991
          to honor her musical achievements and advocacy of the arts.  That same year, Alice
          retired from her position as Principal Keyboard with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

    Alice receives the 1991 Community Medal of Arts Award at a KSO Summer Parks Concert in  
    Bronson Park.  Garrard Macleod, arts award committee member and voice of WMUK-FM
    for many years, bestows the honors.

    A tangible expression of their dedication to the Kalamazoo Symphony was instituted in 1994,
    when Alice and C.H. Mullen created an endowment fund to bring piano soloists to perform with
    the KSO each season.  The Alice Mullen Distinguished Pianists Endowment Fund is managed
    by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

  At home (mid-1990s)


      Alice and C.H. should also be remembered for the fun they had while working with the best of
      the best in Kalamazoo.

      Alice was the life of the party, entertaining guests gathered 'round the piano, cocktails in hand.
      She was often the "musical director" of original skits performed in honor of someone's birthday.

                         Alice's seat mate for this snapshot is Dr. Willis Dunbar, Professor of History
                         at Western Michigan University.  "Bill" was a pianist as well as wordsmith.
                         They had to bring their own piano with them to this particular gathering!
                         Early 1960s.

     C.H. and Alice teamed up with Kalamazoo City Attorney David Morris, his wife Priscilla,
     and Dr. Dunbar to write and direct the "Lawyers' Libels",  an annual variety show lampooning
     the City Commission and the issues of the day.  Lawyer members of the American Legion,
     Westnedge Post on East South Street were the featured performers.  This string of annual hit
     shows ran from 1952 to 1956.  The Gazette coverage was generous.  Here is a sampling:

                                                                                                               (click on article to enlarge)
                                                                                                                                        -Gazette photo

      (From left):  Ernest Jordan as Fire Chief Lloyd Curry; Judge Raymond Fox as Twp. Clerk Joseph
      Parisi, Jr.; William Culver as Com. Henry Upjohn; David Davidoff as Com. A.J. Mullholland, Sr.;
      Judge Donald Anderson as Vice-Mayor Willis Dunbar; John Pikkaart as City Manager C.H. Elliott;
      David Morris as Mayor Glenn Allen, Jr.;  Robert Borsos as Com. Paul Todd; C.H. Mullen as Com.
      Cornelia Robinson; Richard Tedrow as Com. Alvin Little; John Bauckham as City Clerk Marie
      Filarski; Roland Huff as City Attorney Richard Paulson; William Sykes as Police Chief Howard

                                                                                                                                      -Gazette photo
                                                       SEWAGE PLANT SONG'      
            C.H. Mullen, as Lady Commissioner, Leads Loud-Singing, -Handclapping Chorus.

     The Sewer Song is the most famous song that remains.  It immortalizes a contentious bond
     issue being proposed at that time.  Sung to the tune of "Grandma's Lye Soap", it became
     one of Alice and C.H.'s "party pieces".

     The Mullen family home on Waite Avenue was often the place to be for post-concert parties with
     Kalamazoo Symphony musicians, soloists, board members and friends in attendance.  The large
     side yard was the scene of many receptions after the Starlight Symphony summer pops concerts
     in the 1960s.  Alice liked to boast that Duke Ellington was a party guest after his performance
     with the KSO on the top deck of the Gilmore Brothers department store parking lot.


      The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1921.  The 2010-11 Season marks the
      orchestra's 90th Anniversary.  Refer to the following links for more information on the KSO:

      Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra  

      Kalamazoo Gazette

      Kalamazoo Public Library   

This blog was created by a private individual, who is neither an employee nor a sponsor of the KSO.

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