Bill Muster with his children, Bill and Nori, in 1987.
"Dad told us that his last year was the happiest year of his life." -Nori
Bill Muster, June 18, 1926 - January 3, 1989
Memorial by Nori Muster:
Bill Muster was a business man with a creative edge. His journalism career started in the 1940s, when he worked for Acme Photos in Chicago. His mentors at Acme encouraged him to enlist in the Army during World War II and upon their recommendation, Muster became a sergeant in the Army Airforce and a military photographer. His photos appeared in the Ansbach Record, a newspaper for American soldiers in Germany. After the war, Muster returned to Acme, then went to college at the University of Illinois. He was a photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook, and graduated in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He married his wife Paula Runge in 1950. After graduation, Acme transferred them to Minneapolis, where he and Paula headed an Acme bureau.
In 1953 Bill and Paula Muster moved to Hollywood and he worked for Capitol Records, doing marketing and promotion. He designed marketing materials for the Capitol artists, such as Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. She worked for Hollywood Hi-fi on Hollywood Boulevard, but quit her job to take care of their children, Nori and Bill. After Capitol, the family moved to Sunnyvale and Bill worked for Ampex (click here for more about Capitol and Ampex). From 1966 to 1976, Muster was the president and official photographer for the Delta Queen Steamboat. In 1975 Rand McNally published his travel guide, World Traveler's Almanac, which includes Muster's travel photos from around the world.
Bill Muster was a member of the Sciety of AmericanTravel Writers (SATW) from 1967 to 1989, earning their highest recognition, the Marco Polo Award, in 1988. The Society commemorated his contribution to travel photography when they renamed their photo contest the "Bill Muster Photo Showcase." Bill Muster always claimed that he was an average photographer, but was successful because he worked harder at it. His friends will remember him for the many portraits, passport photos, head shots, and wedding photos he gifted over the years, and for his uncanny ability to nail an issue to the wall.
IN MEMORIAM, Bill Muster, well-known as founder of the Internationally acclaimed California Communications, Inc., video production company and as savior of the Delta Queen paddle steamer, passed away after a two-year battle with cancer on Jan. 3 at his hilltop Los Angeles home. He was 62. Shortly before his death, Muster added "The Man of Our Time" honors from the International Teleproduction Society to his long list of awards that spanned a spectrum of careers. In November, his winning style was highlighted when the Society of American Travel Writers renamed its annual photography contest the Bill Muster Photo Competition. In 1987, the society had given Muster its highest honor, the Marco Polo Award.
- Video Manager / February 89
Bill Muster, savior of the Mississippi paddlewheel steamboat Delta Queen, passed away peacefully in his home on January 3. Muster died after a two year fight against malignant mesotheliomia, a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Muster led a campaign that saved an important piece of Americana - the Delta Queen. In 1966, Congress passed the Safety at Seal law that outlawed all ocean-going vessels made partly of wood. Muster, who worked for the boat's owner, wrote testimony that persuaded Congress to grant exemption to the boat. Beginning the next year, Muster led a campaign to save the boat that involved his own frequent appearances before congressional committees.
by Frank Riley, SATW, 1989
Note about the Delta Queen: In 1966 Bill Muster wrote testimony that persuaded Congress to grant all vessels two years to comply with the law. After that, he helped win exemptions into the 1970s. See: Delta Queen Archive.
Bill Muster, 1926 - 1989
Bill Muster, who saved the legendary Delta Queen paddle steamer for Mississippi river cruising, passed away peacefully January 3, at the age of 62, after a courageous two-year battle against cancer.
When Congress passed the Safety at Sea law preventing the Delta Queen from carrying passengers on the Mississippi and its tributaries, Muster appeared before congressional committees and directed a nationwide write-in effort, finally winning the right for the Delta Queen to continue steamboating on the Mississippi waterways in 1971. Muster remained as president of the Delta Queen Company until 1974, then continued as a member of the Board of Directors and was active in adding the new and larger Mississippi Queen as a sister ship.
Muster, a founder of the National Rivers Hall of Fame and a respected advisor, was at the Hall of Fame this summer taping a video documentary of the Delta Queen. Muster, Hall of Fame Chairman John Bickel, and Executive Director Jerry Enzler shared their visions for the Hall of Fame during the visit.
- National Rivers Hall of Fame Newsletter, Volume 4, Spring 1989