John Joseph Mullen died at home in Montauk on Friday of complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 73.
His family remembered Mr. Mullen as a man who loved life even when confronting the challenges of a long illness. He was a teacher, who, while retired from Albert Leonard Jr. Middle School in New Rochelle, N.Y., a position he held from 1959 to 1990, was still called “professor” at the adult day care program at the Montauk Playhouse.
Whether diving into a lobster dinner, delighting in the pleasure of the company of his family, or cultivating plants and flowers in his garden he loved to share, Mr. Mullen could be heard exclaiming his favorite words, “delicious, wonderful, terrific,” his family said.
He was born in New York City on March 6, 1938, to John and Anna Garvey Mullen. He grew up in New Rochelle and received a bachelor’s degree at Iona College in Massachusetts, a master’s degree in history at Hunter College, and he completed predoctoral work at Columbia University. He was a social studies teacher until his retirement and also served in the National Guard.
Mr. Mullen married Cecilia Josephine Brady on Dec. 26, 1959, and the couple had their first of two daughters in 1961. While teaching, he used his summers to help out at his parents’ deli, teach summer school, and visit the beach. He and his wife first came to Montauk in the late 1960s and built their house on Webster Road in 1976.
His diagnosis led to his retirement, but he continued to enjoy gardening, fishing, and clamming with his friends, and spending time on the beach with his family. He was a doting husband, father, and grandfather, they said.
He also loved to read and enjoyed chess, crossword puzzles, cooking, and eating. He taught English as a second language at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church and was a member of the Montauk Beach Property Owners board of directors.
His daughter Suzette Mullen Harrell said that her father loved Montauk and would always say, “We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place” and “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Plants from his garden that he loved to share are now in many friends’ and neighbors’ gardens in Montauk.
He is also survived by his wife, Ms. Harrell of Houston and Montauk, his younger daughter, Beth Mullen Cassie of Westfield, N.J., four grandchildren, and a sister, Carol Ann McCormack of Sag Harbor. A brother, Daniel Mullen, died before him.
A funeral was held yesterday morning at St. Therese with the Rev. Michael Rieder officiating. Mr. Mullen was buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Montauk. Memorial contributions have been suggested to East End Hospice, Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978 or to the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation (designated for the Adult Day Care Center), Box 1612, Montauk 11954.