The Carnegie-Stout Public Library has received a gift of $1,067,182.00 from the estate of James Arthur Mutschler. James Arthur Mutschler, known by his friends as “Art,” was born on November 19, 1919 in East Dubuque, the son of Arthur and Effie Mutschler. James’ grandfather owned a leather goods business in East Dubuque; his father was an accountant at Dubuque Boat and Boiler Works.
James enlisted in the Armed Forces during WWII. When the new recruits were in lines awaiting orders, an officer yelled out, “Who wants to be in the Marine Corps?” A boy behind Art yelled “I do!” and shoved Art forward, which is how he became a U.S. Marine. As one of the few and the proud, serving in the Marine Corps from 1944 to 1946, he was stationed in the Southwest Pacific as a communications specialist. His battle experiences included Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands and were followed by service in post-war Japan. It was especially fitting that Art served in Japan during the post-war transition, as he was the epitome of a humanitarian, with a friendly, easy-going personality. Pictures of that time show him with a big grin and arms around Japanese people; he did not see himself as an occupier. He was a man with a big heart.
Art’s stint in the Marine Corps and his fine analytical mind were good preparation for his future career with the railroad. He began as an operator for the Illinois Central Railroad, primarily manning the stations at Portage (Galena) and the East Cabin (East Dubuque) during a 45-year career. There, Art exhibited his traits of reliability, integrity, and meticulous attention to detail. He received several commendations for safety when he noticed and reported things amiss as trains traveled past his post. He lived in a small home on Rosedale Avenue in Dubuque and walked to work – in East Dubuque – every day. He would set out about an hour ahead of time and, knowing the rail schedule, was able to take a shortcut across the railroad bridge.
He adopted many unwanted and abandoned pets over the years. His last dog was a cute Jack Russell terrier-type that was a constant companion. Art was a lover of classical music, the outdoors and was a conservationist with a passion for walking and hiking. When he retired, Art enjoyed using his life-time pass on the railroad to travel around the United States. He also traveled throughout the world.
Art was an avid reader and relished spending time at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library. He always read newspapers, magazines and checked out railroad books. He drove a truck and parked it up the street so that he could get in a good walk, and avoid paying parking meters. Library staff remembers Mr. Mutschler as a “dear man who always had a smile and a big hello.” He died one year ago this coming Sunday – March 25, 2011 at the age of 91.
He lived modestly, yet was a quiet and generous contributor to many conservation, art, literary, humane, historical, and progressive causes. Mr. Mutschler remembered his favorite organizations upon his death, leaving bequests to the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, the University of Iowa Foundation, and the Carnegie-Stout Public Library. The Library has a trust fund established in Mr. Mutschler’s name and plans to dedicate the funds to the expansion of library services. To this end the Library will embark on a community survey in the next month. Responses from Dubuque’s residents will be very important as we seek to evaluate the level of interest in expanding library services. Some people will receive a survey in the mail; please take a few minutes to complete it and return it in the stamped envelope that will be provided. For those who do not receive a survey in the mail, the Library will offer an online survey. Announcement of the date of the survey and when the survey will be launched on the library’s web site will be made in April.