Joe Vincent Mullen passed away and went home to the Lord on Nov. 6, 2022, the same day he would celebrate his 57th wedding anniversary with his wife, Yvonne. He was born in Monticello, Iowa to Robert V. and Gertrude Mattke Mullen on June 22, 1942. Joe attended Monticello Schools where he graduated from high school in 1960. With his dad being a popular area coach, and achieving the winningest Iowa Girls Basketball Coach in Iowa (third in the nation), Joe participated in several sports including state basketball, football, and golf, a sport he would continue through his active years. However, Joe’s biggest interest and achievements during his school years included choir and being selected as an Iowa All-State Singer, as well as achieving the highest status of Eagle Scout at age 14. He also received many other honors during his school career.
After high school, Joe attended the University of Dubuque and realized that by spending time with a friend at his dad’s funeral home, he wanted to pursue the career as a funeral director. Joe transferred to the University of Minnesota School of Mortuary Science. While at college he met his lifetime love and soulmate, Yvonne Mullen. They were at a University of Iowa vs. University of Minnesota football game and a young Yvonne noticed an obnoxious young man with friends, waving a Hawkeye flag in the Gopher student section. Little did she know that later that evening she would meet this annoying guy she had witnessed. We aren’t sure about all the details, but it was a classic “girl leaves her sweater at a party and boy returns her sweater and asks her out.” The rest was history.
Joe and Yvonne were married on Nov. 6, 1965, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in St. Paul. To this union, they were blessed with three daughters: Shannon Lea, Elizabeth Ann, and Colleen Marie. They viewed raising their daughters as their biggest accomplishment in life.
Before purchasing the funeral homes in Casey and Adair in 1976 and then later Anita and Atlantic, Joe and Yvonne and their growing family lived in various towns in Iowa. He worked at Larkin Funeral Home in Sioux City, Goettsch Funeral Home in Monticello, Estel-Perrin-Avey Funeral Home in Marshalltown, and McBride Funeral Home in Dyersville. While in Dyersville, Joe and Yvonne purchased and operated a Sears Catalog store. They also purchased and operated a bar called the Westside Tap. Joe also sold funeral supplies and was a mail carrier, where he would deliver mail to the famous Field of Dreams Farm. During his time in Dyersville, he was a member of the Lions Club, Jaycees, and Volunteer Fire Department.
Joe and Yvonne were co-owners of the Mullen Funeral Homes in Casey, Adair, Anita, and Atlantic. Joe was very active in the community. He was a longtime member of the Presbyterian Church in Adair; a member of the Adair-Casey School Board for 15 years serving many years as president; he served as Mayor of Casey for 12 years; he served as district governor for the Lions Club and was an active member of the Casey Volunteer Fire Department. Joe was a member of the senior bike club in Anita, an avid reader of newspapers, history enthusiast (the original Clark Griswold who showed his family the country through vacations all across the U.S.), and a fan of cars and racing. After selling the funeral homes, he and Yvonne retired to West Des Moines to be closer to their daughters. But rather than retire, Joe continued to work various jobs involving any opportunity that included driving a car. His last job was transporting medical patients to their appointments. He became very fond of one little girl (and her mom) in particular that he would take to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital several times a week. This sweet girl needed a kidney transplant and after finally receiving one, she was proud to tell “Joe” about her health success. As he said, he would have taken any illness from a child in a heartbeat to ease any of their pain and suffering. Even after receiving news from the oncologist that he had an aggressive cancer that would eventually take his life – just one month ago - Joe’s comment was: “Well, I am 80 years old and I’ve had a good life…Question: Can I still drive?” Joe drove his final clients just a day before his health started to fail aggressively. But he refused to show his pain to his family, putting a smile on his face and attending his grandkids’ volleyball, dance and basketball activities. He attended his last activity just the day before he was taken to Methodist Powell 3 Cancer Unit.
For those who knew Joe, he was a lively, funny character. He was also very kind and prided his work in his funeral director career, helping others in their time of need. He was honored for 50 years as a Licensed funeral director in 2018 with his family beaming with pride by his side. His daughter, Shannon, also helped several years as Joe’s funeral director assistant. Joe was a leader, philanthropist, and did many kind things for others that we never heard about. He would have easily given the shirt off his back for any human being in need. Joe lived and savored his life from the first day he was born, up until his last breath, with strength and dignity. He fought a long battle with early on-set Alzheimers and an aggressive cancer the last month. Even though chances were minimal, he was willing to fight the Alzheimers and cancer and take it in stride with a brave smile on his face.
A visitation and celebration of life will be held at the Casey Community Center on Friday, Nov. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. Please join us to laugh, smile, swap stories, and eat Joe’s favorite food: ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, 2 p.m. at the Adair Presbyterian Church. A private interment will be held where he will be put to rest at the Evergreen Cemetery in Anita near his late grandson, Callyn Scott Vincent Pollock.
Joe, an only child, was proceeded in death by his parents, Robert Vincent and Gertrude Mullen, and grandson Callyn Pollock. He is survived by his wife of 57 years: Yvonne C. Mullen, of West Des Moines; Colleen Conrad (Corey), West Des Moines; Shannon Haus (John), of Adair; Elizabeth Turner (Stephen) of Omaha; and grandchildren: Ethan Pollock, of Anita; Kaleigh Haus, of Des Moines; Collin Turner, of St. Paul, MN.; Madelyn Turner, of Omaha; Camryn and Carley Conrad, of West Des Moines; and many friends and relatives including his Ellison cousins whom he grew up with and adored.
Memorials will be given to Powell 3 Oncology Department of Iowa Methodist Medical Center or the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), as Joe adored his many dogs, including two rescues, through the years.
Funeral arrangements are handled by the staff of Schmidt Family Funeral Home in Adair, IA.