|Long time KindTree volunteer and Tim Mueller’s beloved wife, Cheryl “Nel” Applegate, born on October 7, 1951, in Greenville, OH, peacefully passed away on June 1, 2023, at her home in Eugene, surrounded by her loved ones.|
Growing up in the close-knit farming community of Gettysburg, OH, Nel was the daughter of Nelson and Patricia Applegate. She shared a memorable childhood with her brother, Lonnie Ray, residing just across the street from their school. Their days were filled with endless play and laughter, in their little town. Of course it was always “home by dusk…or else!”
Nel’s high school years were marked by her active involvement and numerous achievements. She immersed herself in music, playing the saxophone, while also serving as a cheerleader. Her dedication and talents led her to be recognized as the 1970 “Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow.” Nel pursued her higher education at Miami University of Ohio as a music major, later studying Social Work at the University of Cincinnati, and ultimately graduating from Linfield College in 1989.
During her young adulthood, Nel embarked on a journey across the country, following the Grateful Dead and attending countless concerts (all pre-“Shakedown Street”). Eventually, she found her home in Oregon after marrying her first husband and embracing the joy of motherhood with their two beautiful daughters. Although life brought her through two divorces, she ultimately discovered her soulmate, Timothy Mueller, who became her husband, trusted companion, lover, and unwavering source of support for the last two decades.
Nel dedicated over 30 years of her life to working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in both Colorado and Oregon. She devoted more than 20 years to Lane County Developmental Disabilities Services in Eugene, where she played a vital role in establishing a program to support young mothers with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD), enabling them to raise their children with proper assistance. Additionally, Nel was instrumental in the initiation of a housing and support program for unhoused individuals with IDD, benefiting numerous families in Lane County. Her finest honors were receiving the Arc of Lane County Lisl Wechter award in 2005, the Arc of Oregon Al Soenneker Memorial Award in 2006, and KindTree’s Thanks to You Award in 2007.
Driven by her gratitude for the blessings she received, Nel actively volunteered for various organizations in her community. She dedicated 20 years to KindTree – Autism Rocks, served as a Board Member for 12 years at Whitebird Clinic, and was involved with the Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center. She also held the esteemed position of an Oregon Country Fair Community Village elder.
Nel’s passion for music resonated throughout her life. From her involvement in high school bands and choruses to her collegiate music studies, she continued to find immense joy in participating in musical groups. Her journey included singing with the Eugene Peace Choir, performing with the Jenaguru Marimba Ensemble, Mudzidzi Mbira Ensemble, and the Steel Wool Band.
Nel was preceded in death by her parents, Nelson and Patricia Applegate, her first husband John Schmitz, as well as other dear relatives and friends.
She is survived by her beloved husband Timothy Mueller, her precious daughters Hannah (Jeremy) Bargmann and Erin Schmitz, and her cherished grandchildren Olivia and William Bargmann.
Nel also leaves behind her brother Lonnie Applegate and nephew Corey Applegate of Greenville, OH, her brother-in-law Jim Schmitz (Diane) of Cincinnati, OH, her sister-in-law Linda Pavonetti (Jim) of Lake Orion, Michigan, and five nieces and nephews. She was also greatly loved by Betsy Kelly (Dirk) of Eugene and Susan Schroeder of Astoria, who were her sisters from another mother. Nel will also be fondly remembered by Tim’s daughters, Emily Mueller (Fred), and Deidre Mueller, and their 4 children, both of Appleton, WI, and Miranda Rommel (Andy) of Corvallis. She leaves behind many other dearly beloved friends, family, cousins and three generation of the Sunshine daydreams crew.
Nel lived a life filled with an amazing amount of joy and cherished moments. She leaves behind a legacy of wonderful memories for her children, grandchildren, family, and friends, for which she will always be eternally grateful. She sincerely hoped she helped enough people to earn her passage and prayed that she left a positive mark on the world.
Now she will join her beloveds on the other side.
A Celebration of Life is planned for September 16, 2023 to honor and commemorate the remarkable journey of Cheryl “Nel” Applegate.
Charitable donations can be made in her name to Kind Tree Productions Inc. and White Bird Clinic.