Muellers To Be Honored With ‘Spirit Of Humanity’ Award


Bill and Belinda Mueller, longtime community leaders and public servants in Cowley County, will be honored with a reception given by the Legacy Foundation next month.

The Muellers are the sixth recipients of the Spirit of Humanity Award.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize Bill and Belinda’s generosity in our community,” Yazmin Wood, Executive Director of Legacy Foundation, said in a news release from the foundation. “Their philanthropic work, civic leadership and volunteerism truly inspire the vision of Legacy Foundation in action.”

The come-and-go reception will be held from 4-6 p.m. at Legacy Foundation 1216 Main, in Winfield and the public is invited to attend.

“When people speak of Bill and Belinda Mueller several adjectives are often in use: approachable, unpretentious, down-to-earth, servant leaders,” Legacy Foundation said. “These are just a few of the characteristics that moved the Legacy Foundation Board of Directors to select them to receive the 2021 Spirit of Humanity Award.”

The foundation says the Bill and Belinda’s story is the thing about which movies are made: city girl meets farm boy.

Introduced through mutual friends in Washington D.C., Bill and Belinda realized it was a match made in heaven — once Belinda was able to get over the fact Bill wore cowboy boots.

Bill grew up the son of a sheriff with a strong connection to the land, the news release said.

He followed his father into law, going to Washburn University, where he studied law, history and political science. He joined the Air Force and served a year in Vietnam.

While in the Air Force, Bill was part of the Office of Special Investigations. His service led to a post-military position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and it took him to Houston. Returning to Kansas, he served with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for 25 years, eventually moving home to Cowley County where he was able help with family and the farm and later have a career with the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office as undersheriff.

Belinda grew up a city kid, oldest of three, the foundation said.

She attended five elementary schools and three high schools. The constants in her life were family, church, and Girl Scouts — where she learned what it was to be a part of something larger than herself.

Belinda got a taste of rural life on her grandparent’s dairy farm in upstate New York. That farm is where her connection to the land and her work ethic were formed. Some of her fondest memories are being there with her extended family.

Playing with cousins, tending the big garden, gathering the cattle. Peaches. Though Belinda studied education at the University of Maryland, it was her administrative career in government agencies – Food & Drug Administration, Customs/Homeland Security, Soil Conservation/Natural Resources, and later the Wichita Veterans Administration Hospital where her world view was shaped.

Today, Bill and Belinda continue their lives of service, the Legacy Foundation says.

From the Presbyterian Church to the Cowley County Historical Society to Cowley County Extension Council and the Winfield Saddle Club, the Muellers’ fingerprints can be found.

“Whether its serving on the Ark City Presbyterian Manor’s Mission Committee, filling the role of P.E.O. Chapter CU President, raising funds for Alzheimer’s, or holding wildflower tours on the farm, their generosity of time, leadership and resources is graciously shared,” the news release said.

Bill and Belinda’s relationships within the community made it easy to select them for the foundation award, one nominator said.

“The Muellers are very approachable and enjoy visiting with all citizens of Cowley County. I am amazed at the number of people they know and call by name when I see the Muellers in a crowd,” the nominator said. “Bill and Belinda make their contributions, both service and financial, in a very quiet, unassuming, and understated way.”

When asked his advice to grow philanthropy in the community, Bill told the foundation involvement is key.

“Put down roots, keep connected, and get involved,” he said.

The Legacy Foundation Board of Directors established the Spirit of Humanity Award in October 2016 when celebrating the foundation’s 20th anniversary.

“It is the desire of the board of directors to recognize community members that inspire by their action the vision of Legacy Foundation that creates a stronger future for our area by building endowments, instilling informed leadership and connecting donors to the critical needs of the region,” the foundation stated.

The first Spirit of Humanity was awarded to Sid Regnier. Subsequent awardees include Tom and Mari Wallrabenstein (2017), Phil and Mary Jarvis (2018), Glen and Louise Stevenson (2019) and Karen Zeller (2020).

“Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead,"” the news release said. “The Muellers are a stellar example of Mandela’s ideal.”

Nominations for the 2022 Spirit of Humanity will be accepted through Dec.12, 2022.

Community members are encouraged to nominate individuals or groups that embody the Spirit of Humanity. You will find the application and guidelines at or contact the Foundation for more information by calling 620-221-7224 or email [email protected].

About Legacy Foundation:

Incorporated in 1996 in Winfield, Legacy celebrated 25 years of growing philanthropy for the benefit of our community in 2021. Legacy Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit philanthropic organization regional in its focus. In 2021, the Foundation award over $701,000 in grants to benefit the region, in addition to growing Foundation assets to over $10.26 million.

The distinctive mission of Legacy Regional Community Foundation is “to grow area philanthropic and nonprofit efforts by connecting donors with critical needs in our community, instilling informed leadership and building endowments to create a stronger, healthier and more prosperous region.” Learn more by visiting, find us on Facebook, or call 620-221-7224.