John Hugh Muir
May 18, 1946 – June 23, 2014
John Hugh Muir, a long-time Austin resident and a well-known and well-loved man about town, died June 23, 2014, in his home of natural causes. He was 68 years old. He grew up in Dallas, Texas, the son of Hugh Brown Muir and Patricia Gray Muir, both deceased. His half-sister Leah Muir Hermes of Portland, Oregon, her husband, Lukas, and their daughters, Grace and Anna, survive him. He graduated from St. Mark's School in Dallas, Texas, in May 1964, where he was an outstanding student. He attended Columbia University in New York City from 1964-1966 and the University of Texas at Austin from 1968-1969. He never stopped reading and learning. Many folks upon first meeting John thought he was a lawyer. John's life was distinguished by his work for civil rights and social justice. He wrote the following in a 1993 job application: "I got involved with civil rights issues as a high school student in Dallas in 1963. I was elected vice president of the NAACP Youth Council...(and) participated in CORE and SNCC activities. Beginning in 1966 I assisted Ernie Cortes with support activities for the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee's efforts in the Rio Grande Valley. I was one of 16 people arrested by the Texas Rangers in May 1967 for picketing a train hauling non-union produce outside Mission. The next month I went to Dallas to run a boycott and became acquainted with our current governor (Gov. Ann Richards), who is an enthusiastic supporter of farm workers efforts." In 1974 and 1975 John was Public Information Officer of KLRN-TX and served as Chairman of the Board of Austin Community Television. He worked with the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies in 1977-78. Between 1976 and 1981 he served as Legislative Aide to Rep. El Franco Lee, Rep. Al Price, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson. He managed the Legendary Raw Deal Restaurant in Austin in 1980-1981. John worked for many years for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA), a non-profit that provides free legal assistance to many low-income Texans. Between April 1984 and May 1991, he worked as TRLA's Private Attorney Involvement Coordinator. He left that position briefly to study with the Race Track Industry Program in Tucson, Arizona, qualifying for a steward's accreditation at Louisiana School for Racing Officials in 1992. He returned to his TRLA position in October 1993 until his retirement in June 2011. John might best be described as a Renaissance man. He loved "wine, women, and song." A brilliant conversationalist, he enjoyed discussing literature and politics as well as such lower-brow topics as the latest gossip about mutual friends and "the ponies." He was a master of irony and of high sardonic wit. He could be blunt and merciless when confronted with what he considered to be an ill-advised comment. John was a regular at several local restaurants where proprietors and wait staff alike welcomed him as a good friend. He did not limit his fondness for food to the gourmet. His palate was just as pleased with biscuits and gravy from Truck City as with the fine French cuisine of New Orleans and Austin’s Chez Nous, as well as a good bowl of Pho or other Vietnamese fare from Tam's Deli & Café. As a connoisseur of wine he shopped regularly at The Austin Wine Merchant. He had a knack for finding good wines at reasonable prices. His library was legendary, and he regularly gave books as gifts to friends and family. Many will remember John as having introduced them to authors such as Wendell Berry, George Orwell and A. J. Liebling and to musicians such as Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson and Rosalie Sorrells. "Back in the day" he cut a fine, tall figure dancing nimbly and enthusiastically at local venues such as The Armadillo World Headquarters and The Soap Creek Saloon. A memorial party will be held to celebrate the life and times of John Hugh Muir within the next few months. Friends and family will get the word out.
John Hugh Muir
February 20, 2021
Photo of John and his parent with the Whitney family about 1958
February 18, 2021
I, too just discovered John has passed. We were friends growing up. My dad knew John's mom, Pat, when they were kids in Portland, OR. We all ended up in Texas about the same time and renewed that childhood friendship. We often went to the Muirs for a visit and dinner on weekends. Last time I saw John was on a school trip to a conference at Columbia and just happened to run into him on the steps of one of the buildings there. Sent him old photos of his mom, my dad and another old friend a few years ago. sorry to have missed his passing.
January 26, 2021
It is hard to believe that Johnny is gone. He was the last member of our mom s family. His mom was my mom's sister. I jusfound out tonight that John had passed. I do have one question. was he ever married?
May 19, 2020
Wow! I just found about John's passing. We lived together in the same house with Bobbie Nelson on 34 and a half street.
I have stories about how he got by "back in the day" but would not share them in a public forum It was ingenious and humorous.
August 20, 2014
Wake for John:
August 6, 2014
thank sto john fro been agood freind rest in peace. marcos lopez .T.R.L.A.
July 11, 2014
Rest in peace. We will always have a bottle of Prosecco chilling for you.
July 10, 2014
John we hardly knew ye...
July 8, 2014
Sorry to hear of this. John was a fine dancer and he had a keen sense of humor. Austin was a better place with him in it.
July 7, 2014
Thanks to John for being a good friend and great person. Thanks for coming to my mom's memorial when she passed and showing me support. I am glad to have known him. He will be missed dearly.
July 6, 2014
John, I am glad to have known you... you were a good guy. Peace, Terry
July 6, 2014
John's passing is a loss to Austin's Beloved Community of peace and justice activists. Reading of all his accomplishments is remarkable; he was never one to brag on his contributions to society; always quick to support the work of others.
One of the good guys.
Claire Wilson James
July 6, 2014
John introduced me to e.e.cummings,
Bob Dylan, and Joseph Heller. I especially remember many wonderful days working for the Civil Rights Movement in the summer of 1964 in Dallas. I am also so thankful to have reconnected with him last year. So sad to hear this news.
July 6, 2014
Wish I'd known John. Leah has been a dear friend for many years now; it is not surprising to me that her brother was so special - so is she. I send my condolences and good wishes to the family and all friends.
June 30, 2014
~ gail caldwell
June 30, 2014
John was an interesting and admirable guy. As a classmate at St. Mark's School of Texas, I recall him making valuable contributions to English literature and history classes, to the student newspaper, and to the basketball team. He was committed to social justice then and throughout the rest of his life, as evidenced by his early work in organizing migrant laborers and his longtime career with Legal Aid. I'm glad I reconnected with him last year and am sad his life has ended.