Posted by Junichi Noumaru on Aug 19, 2019
July 17, 2019
Past District Governor and the charter member of the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay Peter Muller talked his story exclusively to our members.

Pete was born in Berlin, Germany, the year was 1937, right in the
middle of the Third Reich.  Berlin fell to the Soviet Union in 1945,
a time when the city itself was devastated from the numerous
bombing raids and many civilians were left homeless.  Soviet
troops seeking revenge widely engaged in pillaging, murder and
rape throughout the City.  Pete's family was able to flee from
Berlin prior to the arrival of the Soviet troops by rail, not in the
passenger car as those were full, but they were one of  the last
ones on by forcing their way into an officer's quarters.  The train
took the family to Prague before ultimately settling in Austria as
refugees.  The key was seeking refuge on the US side of the line,
not the Soviet side.  Family that chose to stay in Prague,
unfortunately perished at the hands of the Soviets.

In Austria, the family befriended an American military officer
from Texas who would later become Pete's brother in law and
eventual sponsor for immigration and naturalization to the
United States.  Before coming to the United States, the family
along with 450 or so other refugees, moved to Chile.  In Chile,
attending grade school, Pete became fluent in Spanish, his
second language.  After 5 years in Chile, in 1953,  the family
moved to Texas (El Paso) to reconnect with his sister and her

On the way to Texas via the Panama Canal, Pete encountered a
Colombian man who suggested Los Angeles as a place to settle,
so Pete took the man's contact information and suggested this to
his father who was an illustrator who would be able to find work
in the entertainment industry.  Pete found work initially as an
underage dishwasher while attending high school, but ultimately
joined the US Army obtained his GED and was sent to Germany
where he served as an MP.  In Germany, he was able to put his
invaluable linguistic skills to use as a native German speaker who
also was fluent in Spanish and English.

Upon returning to Los Angeles in 1959, Pete thought he would
like to become a police officer.  While waiting after being
accepted into the next academy class, he received a job offer to
sell insurance after the owner of the agency recognized his ability
to sell and ability to speak Spanish in a market where there were
many native Spanish speakers.  One reason this particular
insurance office seemed interesting to Pete was the office's
secretary, a young woman from Honolulu named Roberta who
would later become his wife.  During this time, Pete also joined
the Reserves and because of his linguistic ability, was selected for
Ranger School and became a member of an elite Special Forces

To the chagrin of the insurance agency owner (George Burke),
Pete got engaged to Roberta and they were married, which meant
he was going to be down two key employees after they moved to
Honolulu.  It was ok because George gave Roberta away at the

Upon moving to Honolulu and ultimately Hilo, Pete and Roberta
raised 3 children who have produced 9 grand children to date.
Pete remained active in the reserves and was called to service in
Korea during the Vietnam era.  Pete worked at Moore Business
Forms for 17 years before realizing it was more rewarding to be
your own boss, so with a partner, formed Applied Graphics which
primarily did business in Hawaii and Northern California.

Pete's takeaway and words of advice which apply in both life and
business are to make friends and keep them, he shared an
anecdote that during his military service, met and befriended a
young Walter Dods who went on to becoming the President/CEO
of First Hawaiian Bank.  Many years later in his involvement in
forming what is now the Pacific Tsunami Museum, Pete reached
out to his old friend seeking a contribution to the cause.  What
they received was FHB signing over to the museum, both the
building and the land that now houses the museum.  Establishing
and maintaining relationships are the key which Rotary has
played a significant role for the last 50 years of Pete's life.

Thanks to Pete for sharing his life's story with us and for  his
service and selfless contributions to our Country, the State of
Hawaii, Hawaii County and to Rotary.