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Bernard Muhle: Taking Care of Campus

Twenty-six years ago Notre Dame College lost a loyal friend, a friend of the College for more than 60 faithful years. He remembered the College when it was all open farmlands—with lots of grapes and berries. He started working in the maintenance department at the birthplace of the college, the Ansel Road Provincial House. He was associated with the College’s maintenance department from that first position until the time of his death.

Bernard Muhle

This man was Bernard Muhle.

He was called Bernie; those who knew him spoke of him fondly and admirably. Muhle was an immigrant from West Germany. At the age of 23, he left his homeland for an adventure to America, where in exchange for a ship’s passage he would work for two years for the Sisters of Notre Dame. He traveled to America with six of the Notre Dame Sisters on the steamer Columbus.

Like all immigrants, he stopped at Ellis Island before arriving at Cleveland. On November 11, 1924, Muhle was approved to enter the U.S.

Muhle first went to work at the Ansel Road campus and studied English at a local high school. He also studied for his Stationary Engineer’s license, a certification that trains one to work in many areas─including mechanical, thermal, chemical and electrical─and teaches a wide range of safety skills.

But Muhle liked the U.S. so much that two years turned to four, and he decided to stay for good.

Muhle did return to Germany four years after he left, but only on vacation. While visiting, he met a gal with a unique blend of thoughtfulness, kindness and a sparkling good humor named Maria, who would later become his wife. Muhle persuaded her to consider emigrating to the U.S. and she agreed. She came for the opportunity, not for marriage. But three years later this young thoughtful, kind lady’s positioned changed. The two wed at St. Francis Church on East 71st Street and Superior Avenue in 1931.

Bernard and Maria were born and baptized in the same parish in their hometown in West Germany, but didn’t meet until Muhle returned to Germany on vacation.

A true man of many traits at the College and a World War II veteran, Bernard and Maria, along with daughter Johanna and son Al, were a huge part of the College. They even lived in the grey campus house on Lawnway Road—currently the home of Father Edward Mehok, the College chaplain—however, it was not always located there. It was initially built on the present site of the Regina Complex on Green Road.

He watched building after building go up, often spending the night on campus to protect the construction sites from overnight vandals. He knew every building inside and out.

Even after he retired in 1967, Muhle still walked the campus daily and enjoyed the Notre Dame community on Green Road. In his free time, Muhle enjoyed boating and bowling. He was a Commodore of both the Gordon Shore Boat Club and the Greater Cleveland Boating Association. He was in amateur standing in racing outboards motor boats. Muhle also had many bowling trophies that indicated great accomplishments, from a pastime he loved.

He spoke with broken English, but was the go-to-man to solve any campus problem.

“It was a big job, but I always enjoyed it, “Muhle explained to the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1969. “And if I had to live my life over again, I would do the same thing.”