Jeff Mueller - Aloha

December 23rd, 2011

Jeff Mueller - Aloha

Jeffrey Robert Mueller, 57, died in Honolulu on December 19 of natural causes. His was a story of struggle, survival and success. When Mueller arrived in Hawaii in 1973, he was a 19-year-old heroin addict, introduced to the drug by a Vietnam veteran friend in their hometown of Greeley, Colorado. Once in Honolulu, Mueller ran afoul of the law, landing on Hawaii’s “Most Wanted” list and ultimately spending nearly a decade in Halawa Correctional Facility, where his advocacy of prisoners’ rights initiated the imposition of a 1985 decree mandating federal oversight of Hawaii’s overcrowded prison system.

A minister’s son, Mueller decided that his calling was to spend the rest of his life helping others, a promise he kept. In 1997, he was awarded the Honolulu Police Department’s highest civilian award, the Civilian Medal of Valor, for his actions at the scene of an attempted murder. At the time, he was doing a practicum with Child Protective Services, counseling at-risk youth with Child & Family Services, and assisting children suffering from cancer.

It was in his partnership with local filmmaker Edgy Lee that Mueller touched thousands of Hawaii families. In 2003 and 2004, Mueller and Lee wrote and co-produced ICE, Hawaii’s Crystal Meth Epidemic and its sequel, LIFE OR METH — Hawaii’s Youth. Both films were simulcast commercial- free throughout the state on 11 television channels, the first time since the 1969 Armstrong moon walk that viewers clicking from channel to channel saw and heard the same program.

“Jeff was intuitively gifted in film production,” said Lee. “And his painful real-life experiences provided him with both the motivation and means to tell our stories as no one else could.” Together, Lee and Mueller received the first Pacific Business News Leadership Award in the nonprofit category in 2004.

Mueller also created statewide educational programs for the Hawaii firefighters and stevedores and was the keynote speaker at numerous events including the National Association of U.S. Counties Symposium on Meth in 2005 and 2006. Honolulu Fire Department Chief Kenneth Silva remembers Mueller fondly: “Jeff’s gift was in helping people understand that they can change and that we all play a role in supporting those in need; he will be greatly missed by the community that he gave so much to and that he loved so deeply.”

The University of Hawaii’s Dr. William Haning, noted educator, Director of the Pacific Addiction Research Center, and addiction authority, worked with Mueller on several projects. “Jeff aided the Mayor's Task Force on Drug Abuse for three years, catalyzing intervention and treatment practices for firefighters that endure today. His work for Hawaii longshoremen literally saved lives, and by extension, saved families."

Mueller is survived by his son, Jeffrey, his sister, Lisa, and a future grandson.

A celebration of Mueller’s life will be held on Wednesday, December 28, at the Charthouse in Waikiki, starting at 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact

Peter Gellatly & Mackinnon Simpson for

Posted in 1 | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Jeff Mueller - Aloha”

  1. Michele:

    Such a wonderful person so filled with aloha. In turning around his life, he has touched the lives of so many, including myself. His hard work and dedication spoke true of his life of recovery and helping those who were in need. I'm still in shock and am so saddened so hear of his passing. My very deepest condolences to the Mueller ohana.

  2. Trish Shaner Knudsen:

    A great loss to our community. Rest in Peace Mr. Mueller.

  3. Randy HaRAKAL:

    So very sorry to hear this. Jeff was a tireless worker who symbolized "Aloha". Worked with him and Edgy through Unity House on a few projects. Many blessings to his family and to Jeff.

  4. Mary:

    Aloha Oe Jeff...

  5. Ricky:

    For me... the passing of this beloved friend is a big-loss. Jeff and I met one-another in the early 90's at the Salvation Army ATF program when we both were on probation for drug offenses.
    He was one of those who I found myself drawn to for many reasons, and over the years learned much from. We became that of what I consider as family.
    He and I had lived lives that taught us both to forgive, but never forget that made for our coming to know one-another.
    I will miss having conversations with him that were soul-felt, honest, and deep. That of various things in life that only a couple of chacters like that of ourselves would understand !
    Knowing him as I did, has made me a better person, and I will live on with the memory of Jeff with a smile on my face, knowing we all have a reason for being here, and sharing that of ourselves with others.
    I hope to see those who knew Jeff this Wednesday, to hear what they recall about their time spent with this ... muitidimensional, sometimes complex, larger than life, funloving, crazy kine guy !
    Who with out any doubt will have us all, laughing, crying, bitching, and moaning... with what we each recall of him.

  6. Michi:

    A wonderful farewell at the Chart House for you, our dear friend Jeff. I felt your presence there and the warmth of the folks who knew you so well. I recall the night we all talked story there not so long ago.

    Your hard work and aloha will never be forgotten. Rest in peace brother Jeff and see you on the other side. michi

  7. Barbara:

    Aloha Jeff,

    We spent many early evenings with Maya and Riley at Makiki District Park. Your companionship meant alot. Thanks for the memories.


    Hi Barbara,
    Maya, Betty and Dindi are together as Jeff would have wanted. Hope to see you and Riley.

  9. John Wilder:

    For over thirty years I have been a friend to Jeff and have been with him through thick and thin. The last time I saw Jeff was at Kapiolani Park about 2001, he was doing well and was as parky as ever. Jeff was a fellow with a big heart if he knew you and was very intelligent and full of ideas. We met in 1979 and bonded forever. We both love Hawaii and it's people and were/are willing to help the plight of those in need and who can't voice their concerns in a meaningful manner. I currently live in Oceanside, California, and was unable to attend the Chart House evening, but wish I could of and I should of been the one to give his eulogy. At least my friend Kenny Roberts was there and told me how it was, old Andy Botts didn't make. A mist has gone across my soul with your passing Jeff. We will see each other again in the next life. Much Aloha.


    Aloha John,

    I've always wanted to meet you. Please keep in touch if you're ever in Hawaii. We will scatter Jeff's ashes in Feb/ March at Kaena Point where he would want to be and at the top of Tantalus where he would go every day with the dogs.

  11. John Wilder:

    Thank you for a response to my letter. I can say I had a good relationship with Jeff and considered him my dear friend. In a way Jeff, Emmet and I met during a war. Not a traditional war, but a war that is still being waged on Hawaiian society and our nation. To find that our government seems to find solace in ostracism is very sad indeed, but to know how they have treated the Hawaiian people is a blight on the fabric of a so called modern nation of enlightened individuals. Jeff and I both love Hawaii, to me it is heaven on earth, there is no other place like it. As Jeff knew, I am connected to Hawaiians ( The Aikau family and the Lovells and Papakolea) and the haoles via Beverly R. Bates ( her son is Jeff R. Stone the developer who use to be my friend- he married Judge Acoba's law clerk and that ended our friendship because of Lori Lee Stone, and Marie Stone who married Dickie Wong), this has all caused a lot of drama for everyone. I lived with Hawaiians most of the time and hung out at Kaiser parking lot and surfed. I saw a picture of Jeff with his dogs and I know he loved the West side.