When Victor Muse’s family was in need, the Jesuits stepped in to help. Until his death in May of 2023, Mr. Muse spent much of his retired days returning the favor, donating his time and treasure to the formation fund and several apostolates of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province.
Muse enrolled at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas in September 1942. In his freshman year, his father fell ill and was unable to continue his work as a rate clerk for the Southern Pacific Railroad. This predates paid sick leave, so his family suffered significant financial hardship.
Father Joseph Mulhern, SJ, who led the school at the time, allowed Muse to remain enrolled, despite his family’s inability to pay for the remainder of his education. This generosity was a catalyst for Muse’s prosperous future, and the main reason he felt a duty to repay that debt.
“The four years at Jesuit were the most beneficial years of my life,” the late Mr. Muse recalled in 2021. “I have lived my life on what I learned during that time.”
Since Muse’s family could not afford to send him to college, upon his graduation from Dallas Jesuit, he began a long career at Armstrong Cork Company, where he worked as a quality control technician. Shortly after beginning his career, he married Margie Leverette. The couple had seven children and lived a busy life centered on feeding, clothing and educating their children. Muse also assumed ever-increasing responsibilities at Armstrong. There was little time to “give back.”
As his children grew, Muse found he had more time to invest himself in supporting the Jesuits, whose generosity opened so many doors for him. In 1964, he attended his first retreat at Montserrat Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas. He became an annual attendee. During an interview in 2021, he fondly recalled his initial retreat as a great experience.
“The retreat master was Fr. Harold Gaudin, SJ,” the Mr. Muse shared. “He made me aware of how much God loved everyone.” Father Gaudin would remain a frequent presence at Montserrat for many years.
In 1972, Fr. George Wiltz, SJ, arrived at Montserrat and developed a close friendship with Mr. Muse, even saying Mass at the Muse family’s Thanksgiving celebration for many years. This tradition was passed down from one Jesuit to another and continued for each of the next 47 years. In 2020, the Muse family Thanksgiving was canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.
Mr. Muse retired in 1988 and felt an obligation to repay the Society of Jesus for the generosity and compassion they showed his family in a time of financial need.
“Allowing me to continue at Jesuit without paying tuition was so generous that I felt it was time to pay them back,” the late Mr. Muse recalled.
The couple started a “Vic and Margie Muse” fund, which they used to contribute regularly to the province’s formation efforts. Their children, aware of the impact the Society had on their father, also contribute to the fund. Mrs. Muse continues to support this fund.
Mr. Muse also found time in retirement to get involved with the Dallas Jesuit Alumni Association. After years of selfless service to the organization, he received the “Brother Marshal Lapeyre Man for Others” award in 1999. The Muses maintained close friendships with many Jesuits, especially Frs. Ron Boudreaux and Anthony Borrow, former retreat directors at Montserrat. They particularly enjoyed attending Jubilee celebrations in New Orleans for these men, as well as Frs. Joe Tetlow and John Stacer.
The Muses enjoyed many Jesuit friends over the years: Frs. Jim Babb, Frank Coco, Neil Jarreau, Hooty McGown, Walt McCauley, Ed Romagosa and Bro. Marshal Lapeyre, to name a few.