A Gift From the Mary Anthea Mueller Memorial Fund
Memorial Donation Fund
Upon the passing of longtime San Simeon resident, Mary Anthea Mueller, in December 2019, the Mueller family asked their family and friends to consider a donation to a San Simeon by the Sound – Mary Anthea Mueller Memorial Fund so to serve as an expression of appreciation to the entire San Simeon staff for their expertise, professionalism, and kindness to Mary Anthea and all the San Simeon residents. The Memorial Funds would be earmarked to enhance the quality of life for the residents at San Simeon. The response from the local community, friends, and family was generous and heartfelt.
Our San Simeon residents are genuinely excited about the new iPads. Many residents have never seen one. They are learning about all the iPad capabilities and they are amazed with what they can do with them. Their favorite iPad feature is face-timing their loved ones. These 20 iPads could not have come at a better time. Due to our visitation restrictions, these tablets have been a Godsend to our residents. The residents expressed their sincere thanks to the contributors of the Anthea Mueller Memorial Fund for the iPads and the opportunity to keep up with the outside world.
-San Simeon Director of Recreation
COVID-19 on San Simeon Residents
In February 2020, as the brainstorming of how to best allocate the Mary Anthea Mueller Memorial Fund began, the coronavirus was rapidly spreading across the North Fork and the globe. Due to the community exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in Greenport, and to ensure the health and safety of the residents, San Simeon suspended all visitors from entering San Simeon. Understandably, the Memorial Fund plans were placed on hold.
By March 2020 and for many months thereafter, San Simeon residents were not able to have in-person visits. As a not-for-profit organization, San Simeon by the Sound had limited resources to obtain the technology to address the rapidly growing need for their residents to visually connect with their loved ones, now more than ever, and to also provide their seniors with access to online educational programs, the arts, movies, and more. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this became an urgent priority.
In June 2020, Timothy Mueller, son of Mary Anthea, reached out to Steven C. Smyth San Simeon’s Executive Vice President & Administrator to resume the Memorial Fund program conversation. Considering the pandemic, Steven mentioned that there was a great necessity for better outside communication options for our residents. When prompted by Tim as to how can the Memorial Fund help the residents, Steven quickly said, I would like to start by purchasing 20 iPads so that our residents can FaceTime with their friends, family and loved ones. Tim wholeheartedly responded; My mother would love this idea. Let’s do it.
With a well-defined purpose, Tim prepared a budget for iPads along with table stands, headphones, related software technologies, and ongoing IT support.
Since the ideal program budget for 20 iPads exceeded the charitable donations from Mary Anthea’s family and friends, Tim then donated the remainder of his mother’s San Simeon Personal Needs Expense Account to back to San Simeon to kickstart the project with 15 iPads.
From June to December 2020, Mr. Mueller donated his time and expertise, collaborating with San Simeon staff and their IT vendor along with a colleague, Jake Wright, to develop a communication and activity platform utilizing Apple’s technology.
A San Simeon-Mueller Family Connection for Over 45 Years
Over the years, the Mueller family have had a longstanding association with San Simeon by the Sound.
Tim’s parents, R. William (Bill) and Mary Anthea (Ann) Mueller, were married and moved to Greenport in 1949. They were a hard-working couple who owned The Little Yankee Shop, a children’s clothing store, in Greenport for 20 years from 1949 to 1969. Today, Noah’s restaurant occupies the center space where Tim’s parents store used to be. Thereafter, they both worked together with the Rowsom family at S.T. Preston and Son in Greenport until 1987 when Bill died. Their four sons, William (Billy), Christopher (Chris), Paul, and Timothy were each born at Eastern Long Island Hospital (ELIH) and they attended St Agnes Catholic School and Greenport Public Schools. Tragically, Chris at age 15 was killed by a drunken driver in 1969 and Billy at age 25 succumbed to cancer in 1975.
Tim’s great aunt, Johanna E. Mueller, was a San Simeon resident for 11+ years. From the mid-1970’s through late 1980’s, his parents and Tim visited with his great aunt almost every weekend. Many times, his dad and Tim would visit several times in any given week. While attending Greenport junior high and high school in the 1970’s, Tim’s classmates and he would perform both spring and winter music concerts at San Simeon for the residents. His great aunt Johanna attended many of the events.
Tim recalled how professional and compassionate the staff was when he would visit with his great aunt. I always knew that she was well cared for and safe while living at San Simeon. And Aunt Johanna was literally just down the road from our family house.
Tim went on to say that as we all know, growing older can indeed be graceful, tends to come with medical challenges, and can significantly impact how and where one can safely live. I saw this with both my great aunt and my mother. Despite my mother’s loss of her two older children and her husband in 1987, the true essence of my mom was not her fashionable attire, makeup, pink nail polish, and coiffed hair – but how she was able to stare down adversity, throw her shoulders back, and do her best to make the most of every day.
Despite such family loss, Mary Anthea did manage to grow older gracefully, enjoy quality time with family and friends, had lots of medial challenges, and learned how to navigate the transition from the home that she and Bill built on Middleton Road in Greenport to her room at San Simeon by the Sound. In 2010, Mary Anthea transitioned from San Simeon’s rehabilitation program to long-term care. For the 9+ years that followed, she established many personal relationships with both the San Simeon staff and residents.
Tim also mentioned that every couple of months, I would be asked to participate in a San Simeon Resident Care Review meeting with the team leads that were responsible for my mother’s care. And at the conclusion of every session, I would remind the San Simeon staff that should something ever happened to me and I would need skilled nursing care then I would want my mother’s room. The only stipulation is that I would want my mother’s custom pink walls to be painted blue. Then, we all have a good laugh over the custom pink walls, and I would insert that I genuinely meant it.
Tim said, as I see it, San Simeon by the Sound is an incredibly special place. Of course, every institution has strengths and weaknesses. San Simeon is not exempt. Regardless, growing up in small community, we are so fortunate to have San Simeon and all the good, caring, and professional people so close to us. In my case, I went to school with many of the staff members. Knowing that my classmates where at San Simeon give me additional comfort in knowing that my mother was in good hands and I do believe that their caring ways had a profound impact on my mother’s life.
During my mother’s final days, my husband, Lawrence Kotik, and I were overwhelmed by the volume of San Simeon staff members (nurses, aids, physical therapy, maintenance, and administration) who took time out of their day to say goodbye so gracefully to my mother. Never have I witnessed such genuine love and affection by the San Simeon “employees” who over the 9+ years became mom’s friends. Larry and I will never forget that loving end-of-life experience that was so willing given to my mother. Mary Anthea was 92.
Additional Memorial Funding
In August 2020, Mary Anthea’s son and Tim’s brother, Paul Nicholson Mueller, died after a long bout with cancer. He was 65. Tim suggested that Memorial donations in Paul’s name could be made to San Simeon by the Sound – Mary Anthea Mueller Memorial Fund expressing that every donation would be designated to expand upon the Resident iPad Program. The response from the local community, friends, and family was again charitable and enabled San Simeon to add an additional 5 iPads along with supporting technology to the Program.
The Resident iPad Program launched in December 2020 with 20 iPads and has been well received by the residents. Per Steven Smyth, this project accomplished its goal and more. In addition to facilitating communication such as Facetime, a specialized array of easy-to-use apps allow the residents to surf the web, visit news apps, game and puzzle apps, music apps, and more! On behalf of the residents of San Simeon, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the 67 Mueller family and friends who so generously contributed to the Resident iPad Program on behalf of Mary Anthea Mueller and Paul Mueller.
Tim Mueller added, I know that my mother and brother would be quite pleased with the iPad program’s outcomes – The residents’ feelings of isolation and loneliness due to the Covid-19 have been reduced as they can now visually connect and talk directly with their family and loved ones. And the iPads have added to the resident’s quality of life with access to online educational programs, the arts, movies, and more. Larry and I are eternally grateful to our family, friends, and local community for supporting this initiative.
Renee Genova, former San Simeon Director of Recreation also mentioned, our San Simeon residents are genuinely excited about the new iPads. Many residents have never seen one. They are learning about all the iPad capabilities and they are amazed with what they can do with them. Their favorite iPad feature is face timing their loved ones. These 20 iPads could not have come at a better time. Due to our visitation restrictions, these tablets have been a Godsend to our residents. The residents expressed their sincere thanks to the contributors of the Anthea Mueller Memorial Fund for the iPads and the opportunity to keep up with the outside world.