Bill Muller, one of my long-ago colleagues from the student newspaper at UT-Arlington, died yesterday at age 42 after a year-long battle with cancer. The Arizona Republic, where he worked the past seven years as the film critic, does a good job of covering his many accomplishments in journalism. Muller was an investigative reporter before he became a critic, and his paper editorializes today about why he was so good at it:
But above all else, Bill Muller was a great journalist because he was ... well, charming.
True to his Southern roots, he was a disarming, engaging raconteur of a newspaperman. Countless Arizona and national political figures over the years have opened the pages of The Republic and found themselves wondering slack-jawed how that clever Muller fellow got them to admit such things. And on the record, no less.
I didn't know Muller well, even back then, but he was one of those people who filled a room -- a big stocky dude with an even larger personality. Never shy about sharing an opinion, he had a booming laugh that could loosen fillings. At an intensely competitive school paper where everybody thought they were going to grow up and win Pulitzers -- and three of them were right -- Muller was one whose career I most expected to live up to his ego. And it did.
There's a Legacy.Com guestbook where some friends and colleages are sharing their remembrances.