Muilenburg Prosthetics Co-Founder Passes Away at 99
July 30th, 2021 | Published in Blog
Loretta Muilenburg, co-founder of Muilenburg Prosthetics Inc., Houston, passed away Monday, July 26th. She was 99. Loretta had been in nursing care since she suffered a serious stroke at age 93 and was in hospice care when she died from natural causes.
Loretta was born in Milltown, Wisconsin, to E.B. and Minna (Brix) Lindoo. Her father was a pharmacist and owned the local drug store, Lindoo Drugs. During her childhood she enjoyed spending time at local lakes, canoeing, swimming and fishing. She also loved singing, playing the piano, woodcarving, and painting. Interestingly, she kept a diary that detailed much of her childhood.
She attended the University of Minnesota where she graduated with a dual degree in Music and Fine Art. She was an active member of the Kappa Delta sorority and in 2017, she received a 75-year Diamond Circle Certificate!
It was at the University of Minnesota where she met her husband, the late Al Muilenburg. He was a waiter at the Cozy Café, working his way through college. After meeting Al, Loretta told her cousins and friends that she was going to marry him.
Al and Loretta were married in San Francisco on August 14, 1944, when Al, a naval officer, was on leave. While Al was at sea, Loretta completed studies in occupational therapy at Milwaukee-Downer College (Wisconsin) and then worked at army hospitals in California. She wanted to help veterans adjust to life after being injured in the war. Al felt the same way and was inspired to help amputees. Although Al studied to be an accountant, he began to train as a prosthetist.
After the war, Loretta and Al returned to Wisconsin and Al began post-graduate studies in orthotics and prosthetics. He joined the Minneapolis Artificial Limb Co., where he worked for two years.
The Muilenburgs moved to Houston in 1948 and established their own prosthetics business, then known as the Muilenburg Artificial Limb Company. The business was run out of the front of the home and their living quarters were in the back. In 1950, Loretta and Al moved their business to 3900 LaBranch. Their son, Ted Muilenburg, CP, joined the family business.
In Houston, the Muilenburgs expanded their family with three children. Loretta was a devoted mother and made sure her children led fun and interesting lives. When her daughters joined Girl Scouts, Loretta also became involved and accompanied the girls on many canoe trips and campouts.
The Muilenburgs also took up sailing and they were founders of the Seabrook Sailing Club on Galveston Bay. Al handmade their 18-foot sailboat named TILT and they spent many happy times on the Bay. During the summer they rented a summer home until Hurricane Carla wiped it out and they built a cottage adjacent to the club grounds. Loretta was in her element. She loved the water. She fished, netted shrimp and set crab traps, earning her the moniker of “The Crab Lady.” All the children loved her crabbing lessons. When she hoisted the crab flag everyone at the club knew they were welcome for a meal but they would have to pass the shell inspection to come back.
She took up racing on smaller boats that she could sail singlehandedly, i.e., Sailfish and Sunfish, even with her German Shepherd “Senta the sailing dog.” The family summers were filled with sailing, regattas, horseback riding and seafood. They even road their horses in the surf at Galveston. She was a great cook and often won awards at the sailing club’s annual gumbo competition. To keep her art skills honed, she took up making mosaics, many times with her children helping. One of her mosaics was a dining table with a large blue crab, which to this day still serves as the center piece in her new Seabrook cottage that she had built after hurricane Ike. She called it her “Palace in the Sky”.
One of Al and Loretta’s friends at the sailing club was an architect whom they contracted with to design and build a contemporary home for them on their 3-acre property in Houston. The home featured walls of sliding glass windows and high ceilings with inserts that brought in natural light and views of the surrounding trees. Unfortunately, the property ran along old Buffalo Bayou, so through the years due to subsidence the home was flooded and repaired numerous times. The home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, primarily from the flooding that resulted as the flood gates were opened at the Addicks and Barker dams.
Loretta was also an equestrian and a founder of the Gulf Coast Women’s Equine Association. She also rode with the Salt Grass Trail Ride Wagon #2 and the Valley Lodge Trail Ride. She stabled one to two horses throughout the years at the Houston home. She loved riding English and competed in hunting and jumping competitions. She also enjoyed fox hunting and was a founding member of the Nacogdoches Hound & Hunt Club in Chireno.
Loretta made many friends through the years and took many photographs. She would send out custom Christmas cards designed around photos she had taken of her friends. What a surprise when they opened their Christmas card and saw their own faces! She also was the photographer for the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) Auxiliary, of which she was a member.
Loretta and Al also traveled around the world for both business and pleasure and were married for 62 years when Al passed away July 5, 2005. Loretta remained involved in the business they started, even into her 90s, making weekly visits to the office where she visited with patients and employees.
Loretta was very active until she suffered a debilitating stroke in 2015 at age 93. Loretta always had an uncommonly strong will and enjoyment of life. She thrived on adventure and loved being around people. She was truly an amazing individual, and she touched many lives in a truly positive and rewarding way.
Surviving are her daughters Loral Cobb Haus (spouse Donald Haus) of Houston and Gretchen Woellner of Austin; son Ted Muilenburg (spouse Sally Muilenburg) of Houston; granddaughters Lorrella Cobb, Melissa Muilenburg, Cory Haus Moffat; grandsons John Woellner (spouse Laura Woellner), Max Muilenburg, and Robert Haus; great-granddaughters Emily Woellner, Evelyn Woellner, Hannah Haus, Madeline Crenshaw and E.B. Crenshaw. She was preceded in death by her husband, Al Muilenburg, son-in-law Don Cobb (husband of Loral Cobb Haus), and grandson Scott Haus.