Karl Heinz Muehlmann, 81

Jun 25, 2020

Karl Heinz Muehlmann, 81, of Waltham, passed away at his summer home in Wareham on June 17.  

During his career, Dr. Heinz Muehlmann was an economic advisor to Massachusetts Governors Frank Sargent, Ed King, Bill Weld, and Paul Cellucci. In addition, he was the Chief Economist for Jobs for Massachusetts, Inc., and Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

Early in his career, while teaching Economics at Bentley University, Heinz consulted for the Department of Commerce and Development. With assistance from Robert Kenney and Rena Kottcamp, Heinz prepared an analysis of the Massachusetts economy, which became known as “The Muehlmann Report on Economic Strategy.”

Heinz’ signature public accomplishment was creating the economics behind Massachusetts Proposition 2½, which limits property tax assessments and automobile excise tax levies. The late Barbara Anderson, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, shepherded Proposition 2½ to a ballot victory. They became life-long friends. Barbara referred to Heinz as her “favorite local Austrian-born economist” tutor, who supported small government, protection of private property, and individualism in general.

Economics was Heinz’ second career. When he arrived in the U.S., he brought with him a nurtured childhood from his home town Zell am See, a solid education from Salzburg, a degree from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and a growth mindset and self-discipline. Heinz was also a state-certified ski instructor, who had perfected his signature “Follow me” pedagogy. For his students, this was easier said than done, because Heinz negotiated any triple black diamond slope gracefully in blue jeans, his favorite ski pants.

Heinz’ first role in the U.S. was to coach the Northern Michigan University ski team, where he also earned a Master of Arts from the School of Graduate Studies, learned about the regional economy as well as Midwestern values and life. Heinz continued teaching skiing professionally in New England, in the Sugarloaf and Stratton mountain resorts. He abandoned his professional ski instructor career at age 33 and turned to what Richard Cunningham called “an economic mountain top called Jobs.”

Besides skiing, Heinz was a lifelong competitive athlete, who enjoyed playing tennis, sailing, fishing (especially striped bass and bluefish), and lobstering. He liked flying gliders in the Alps in earlier years. Heinz also became an ice hockey referee, which led to a role at the 1964 Olympic Games in Innsbruck. His trophies included the first place in the Vienna Academic Championship slalom competition, mixed doubles at Sippican Tennis Club and Mount Auburn Club, arguably with the help of his infamous drop shot, as well as Senior races at Bourne Cove Yacht Club.

Heinz’ favorite role was, however, being the father of his three children Sonja, Martha, and Carl. A family man, he loved teaching them sports, taking them out water skiing and fishing on Buzzards Bay, going on ski trips and vacations with them, and passing on to them what he knew. One of Carl’s favorite memories is a day, which they started in Wareham catching lobsters in Buzzard’s Bay before driving to Killington, Vermont, for a day of skiing, and returning to Wareham in the evening. In recent years, Heinz awaited his grandchildren with his boat and fishing rods ready for adventure when they visited Wareham in the summer.

Heinz welcomed opportunities to be creative, whether as an economist or in the kitchen, initially cooking and baking for his family, and later also for friends. A signature three-course meal would start with his Manhattan Clam Chowder, followed by a main course of Wiener Schnitzel from turkey tenderloins with parsley fingerling potatoes and cranberry sauce. Heinz’ popular Linzer Torte made from scratch with walnuts and red currant jelly, often prepared on Sunday afternoons during football season, would be served for dessert. His last invention was the Linzer Cupcake, a small Linzer Torte designed to serve one person.

A son of the late Hermann and Martha (Vorderegger) Muehlmann, Heinz will be missed greatly by many. He is survived by Brigitte Wudernitz Muehlmann, his second wife and soul mate, whom he met in Boston after his first marriage had ended in divorce, his children Sonja Fay Muehlmann and her husband Philip Chu of Monrovia, CA, Martha Muehlmann of Mautern, Austria, and Carl Eliot Muehlmann and his wife Amalia Daskalakis of New York, NY, his grandchildren Amelia Mary Chu, Collis Eliot Chu, Maya Juliana Muehlmann and Livio Nikola Muehlmann, brothers Hermann and Hansjoerg Muehlmann, loving nieces and nephews, cousins, and loyal friends near and far.

Heinz was able to spend his final days at home and die in his wife’s arms as he had wished, thanks to the compassionate and open-minded continuous care provided by Community Nurse Home Care of Fairhaven. Gifts to the agency in Heinz’ memory would be appreciated. https://www.communitynurse.com/donate/ 

Funeral services in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, and in Zell am See, Austria, will be private.  A celebration of Heinz’ life will be held at Sippican Tennis Club at a later date to be announced.  Heinz’ memoir “Slalom Racer” is in progress. To leave a message of condolence for the family, visit www.warehamvillagefuneralhome.com.