WDCHOF Member Bill Mullen, 1921-2008
World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member Bill Mullen, who devoted most of his life to teaching marching music and physical education, will be buried during a military service at new St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bellmawr, New Jersey, following his passing on Sunday, March 16 at the age of 87.
The cemetery service will take place after mass at St. Matthew’s Church in National Park, New Jersey, at 1 pm Wednesday, March 19.
Messages of condolence may be sent to Esther Mullen, his wife of 67 years, at 31 North Maple Ave., Apt. 233, Marlton, New Jersey. Mullen was born and lived in Philadelphia for more than 80 years, but recently resided in Marlton, NJ. He is also survived by four children, 11 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. In addition to his extensive field music activities, he taught physical education at West Catholic High School for 19 years and at St Joseph’s Preparatory School for another 26 years before retiring in 1985.
He felt deeply about the education and help that the Christian Brothers of LaSalle (FSC) gave him throughout the years and wished to return some of that generosity. He asked that rather than sending flowers, Mass cards or other forms of sympathy friends should make donations to assist the Christian Brothers in their retirement. Gifts in his name can be sent to: Brother Kevin Stanton, Dir. of Development, Christian Brothers’ Development Office, P.O. Box 1710, Beltsville, MD 20704-1710. Checks should be made payable to: The Christian Brothers’ Development Fund
Bill Mullen was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1985, following a lifetime of involvement in the drum and bugle corps community that dated all the way back to 1929, when he joined the Arthur McArthur Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post parade corps.
He played bugle with the group of about 30 members until 1934, when he joined Howard C. McCall American Legion (AL) Post 20 junior corps. In 1937, he moved to the Musketeers to play soprano bugle in the group sponsored by Archer-Epler Post 979 in Upper Darby, PA.
He served in the United States Navy during World War II as a seaman and physical education instructor, teaching other sailors survival skills. To further a wider understanding of American heritage, he later formed the Olde City Fife and Drum Corps, which dressed in authentic period costume and used instruments of the colonial era.
The Archer-Epler corps lost several members who served in World War II, but Mullen, nicknamed “Moon” during his years in the Navy, and many other former members returned to the re-organized senior corps in 1947.
As a baritone bugler, he won national Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) titles in 1947, 1954, 1956 and 1957, in Boston, Milwaukee, New York and Miami. He also served as business manager of the Archer-Epler Musketeers for many years. His other high profile awards include: the Order of Anthony Wayne Medal, Valley Forge Military Academy, 1982; the Ignatian Medal and Proclamation, St Joseph’s Preparatory School, 1982; Alumni Sword and Scabbard for lifetime achievement in Field Music, Valley Forge Military Academy, 1996; Cavalcade of Music Award, Boyertown PA, for achievements in field music, 1999.
He organized the Philadelphia Senior Circuit for competitive drum and bugle corps, which included the Jersey Joes, of Riverside, NJ. This organization was one of the first regional circuits and served as a model for later organizations, including Drum Corps Associates (DCA). He instructed a number of area junior corps and such senior corps as Imhof, York White Roses and Baltimore Yankee Rebels.
He taught physical education at West Catholic High School during the 1950s and ’60s and then for 26 more years at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. He also taught marching bands at West Catholic, St Joe’s and many other Philadelphia-area high schools. For 42 years, he served as Director of Field Music in charge of the drum and bugle corps at Valley Forge Military Academy. He was instrumental in administrating and teaching the drum and bugle corps at Valley Forge Military Academy, where an annual award is given to a deserving member of the ‘Forgemen’ in his name.
For more than 20 years he provided high quality pre-game and half time shows for the National Football League (NFL) Philadelphia Eagles and the United States Football League (USFL) Stars.
In 1976, he organized the largest July 4 parade of musical units and patriotic performances ever held in Philadelphia, marking the country’s 200th celebration of independence. Musical units from all 50 States and 11 foreign countries participated in the celebration.
He also organized programs for the New York World’s Fair, American Legion State and National Championships, major band festivals throughout the region; Atlantic City, Garden State Park, Liberty Bell Park, and Allentown pageants. He leaves a legacy of pageants, competitions and shows improving the status and professionalism of marching bands and drum and bugle corps field shows. He organized the Mid-Atlantic Judges Association, and adjudicated in several caption areas for more than 25 years. He organized the process for evaluating bands and drum and bugle corps that brought standardization to the rules of competition that helped improve the quality of field music.