Rodney Mutschler remembered as good businessman, friend
Feb. 10, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 9, 2011 at 8:10 p.m.
Charles Kutchka said he will always remember his boyhood days with his younger cousin, Rodney Mutschler.
"I always called him a tagalong because he always wanted to go where I went," Kutchka said with a laugh. "And I gave him some trouble, but he was a good kid. We got along well."
Mutschler, 73, died Wednesday after his heart gave out. He was exercising at the time, Kutchka said.
The Inez native was president and general manager of Victoria's Elder Distributing Co., which distributes Coors beer.
He had a sense of humor, but was all business, said Iris Bailey, the company's office manager. She worked with Mutschler for 39 years.
"He was 73 years old and still hadn't retired," she said, explaining he still went to conventions and took a hands-on approach with the company. "You know he liked what he did."
Mutschler, a St. Joseph High School graduate with a bachelor's degree from Lamar University, worked through the company's ranks, Bailey said.
"He worked hard. He loaded the trucks out in the rain, sleet, snow and heat," she said. "In his young days, he was probably the best forklift driver I've ever seen."
Barry Hartman, president and general manager of Hartman Distributing Co., described Mutschler as a man who was "very passionate about the beer business."
Although competitors in the industry, Hartman said the men attended meetings together and got to know one another well.
"Everybody knew Rodney," he said. "We'd been rivals and competitors for a long time, but we very much respect the work that he did and the operation he ran for many years."
Mutschler maintained other interests, too.
He was an avid football fan, Bailey said, and looked forward to the Purple Martin birds who came back each year to the birdhouse outside the business.
"He really enjoyed watching the birds," she said. "And, even though he didn't have grandchildren, he had what he called his 'granddogs.' He loved them."
Mutschler was married to his wife, Lynn Mutschler, for nearly 50 years. They had both a son and daughter, Kutchka said.
He often attended city council meetings, where he voiced his opinion on various issues.
"He wanted the best for his family, for his business and for him."
The loss is a difficult one for the family, Kutchka said.
"We have been grieving over his death," he said. "He was a great cousin. He was well-liked by anyone who knew him. He will be missed."