MARCELINA “MARCY” ARROUES MULVILLE
January 4, 1911 – June 18, 2001
Marcy Arroues grew up with Orange County. Her father, Bernard, and her mother, also Marcelina, immigrated from the béarnaise region of south-western France (bordering on Spain) around the turn of the twentieth century and were among the first 100 families in Orange County.
Bernard bought extensive acreage in the north area of the county (now partially the Fullerton golf course) to become an early citrus grower. As a Basque, he also joined fellow émigrés in raising sheep on the rural grasslands.
The youngest of four children, Marcelina attended Fullerton High School where she discovered music and excelled as first violin in the school orchestra. Eventual musical theatre-legend John Raitt and United States President Richard Nixon were among her classmates.
Orange County was an idyllic and verdant location in which to grow up; focused primarily on citrus, farmland and oil wells. At the time, for cultural inspiration and advanced education, residents had to travel some time and distance (long before freeways and rapid transit) into Los Angeles. In her teens, Marcy spent four years living in Los Angeles County and graduated from the School of Music at the University of Southern California. She majored in voice and violin. She also discovered that that rapidly growing metropolis had much to offer its residents. She was very observant, interested and came home with many questions. “Orange County needs a symphony orchestra,” she proposed. “Why don’t WE have organizations supporting the arts, the needy and the sick?”
With her energy and determination, Marcy began to put her dreams into action. She started as a Fullerton elementary and junior high school teacher for fifteen years. During that time, she also became choir director for the local St. Mary’s Church developing it into a highly acclaimed musical body; continuing in that position for some 35 years. She was deemed “the musical spirit of the church”. Such achievements inspired her to continue to advance her cultural dreams.
But in 1946, her father died and, just three years later, she lost her older brother, Jean. Since her older sister, Josephine was now married and teaching in Long Beach, Marcy had to take on the responsibility of supporting herself as well as her mother and unmarried sister. She taught herself to become a citrus rancher and surprised the La Habra Growers Association by tenaciously convincing them of her serious intent. Eventually she was accepted as the first woman to sit on the Board of such a previously all-male organization.
During the 1960's, Marcy’s active musical spirit continued to guide her and she helped to form and support the Symphony Association of Orange County to create and promote a home-grown professional orchestra; one of her long-held dreams. She realized that Orange County was growing fast; but, unfortunately, not fast enough. It was not yet ready to provide long-range continuous support for such an undertaking. The group reluctantly disbanded in 1971.
Building a strong cultural identity for Orange County, independent from Los Angeles, was going to take longer to achieve than Marcy alone could bear. Over the next few years, she identified many other women in her area that shared her priorities. With her enthusiasm to attract and enlist like-minded progressives, she founded, supported, advanced and was actively involved in some 26 non-profit organizations many, though started in Fullerton, eventually expanded countywide. She served as president of the St. Jude Hospital Guild as well as founder-president of its Damas de Caridad and also of Las Campanas which, through its annual debutant ball, raised funds for the Orange County Opera company and OC youth Symphony. Named to the prestigious Disneyland Award committee, Marcy also served 12 years on the Fullerton Cultural Commission. She worked with the Assistance League of Fullerton, Children’s Home Society, Crittenton Services for Children, the Fullerton Arboretum, Muckenthaler Cultural Center, among others, and, eventually, as a board member creating Orange County’s own 2000-seat Performing Arts Center (at last, in 1986, one of Marcy’s longest-held dreams fulfilled!).
Marcy received countless accolades for her unselfish good works over the years. She was the 1962 Fullerton Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year, the 1975 recipient of the Southern California Beautiful Activist Award, received the 1982 North County YWCA Volunteer Community Service Award and, perhaps most impressive of all, the 1989 Humanitarian Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
In 1960 Marcy sold the family ranch to a land developer thus providing for the future security of her family. From her home base in Fullerton, she now was able to move headlong into becoming one of the leading proponents of the cultural growth of Orange County. A landmark event also occurred in 1960 that would become an integral part of Marcy’s life; the establishment of the new permanent campus of Orange County State College, a major new educational and cultural jewel, (though initially in 12 temporary barracks), practically in her backyard!
By 1964, its name was changed to California state college at Fullerton and the Performing Arts were developing rapidly. Founding president, Dr. William B. Langsdorf, declared that permanent buildings would be added to the campus as curriculum was established and developed to a point to require them. Perhaps prophetically, the SECOND building constructed contained the Little Theatre, Recital Hall, instrumental practice rooms and two large music rehearsal studios! Marcy was overjoyed but quickly realized that financially hard-pressed students could use an extra hand and encouragement. Since music had always been her greatest interest, true to form, Marcy wanted to establish a community support group for the new Department of Music. After consultation with faculty members, the Dean of the Arts and other campus and community leaders, Music Associates was born. In 1968 not many state colleges had extracurricular support groups. Most of the public assumed that all necessary funding was being provided by their taxes. Forward-thinking Marcy saw the college as a new community asset with great potential even beyond its doors. Since its founding, Music Associates has been a major donor of scholarships to assist students with their studies. Many graduates have become world-class musicians in opera, symphony, and jazz, musical theater as well as in other genres, as outstanding soloists and teachers.
In the late 1960’s, Marcy took a little time for herself and found a personal companion in Dr. Maurice F. Mulville a distinguished surgeon practicing at St. Jude Hospital; he shared her support for many philanthropic organizations and was also passionate about music. Their marriage, in 1970, lasted 25 years until his death. Although they had no children together, Dr. Mulville had two daughters from a previous marriage.
Marcy’s fervent dream for a symphony orchestra in Orange County was brighter than ever. She renewed her efforts by nurturing and prodding Cal-State’s 45-member chamber orchestra. In 1978, it debuted at the school and continued to grow into an 85-member symphony eventually leaving its academic cocoon to blossom into the full-scale, world-classOrange County Pacific Symphony; third largest such ensemble in California. Without a doubt, this was the most famous and far-reaching “graduate” of the College (which, by 1972, had grown into a major international UNIVERSITY with a nationally-accredited SCHOOL of Music.) Remembering an earlier financial setback in sustaining such a complex organization, Marcy diligently engaged other like-minded philanthropic individuals to sustain this fledgling symphony in perpetuity and worked tirelessly to create five support guilds throughout the County. She was named “Chairman Emeritus” of Pacific Symphony and continued to be an active member until her death.
Shortly before she became ill with cancer, Marcy’s next project was to raise funds to establish an endowment for the Fullerton Civic Light Opera, a nationally recognized presenter of musical theatre. Although she spoke of it with her usual enthusiasm, this was a dream that she could not fulfill. She simply became too ill.
Outside of her husband and family, Music was always Marcy’s greatest love. She was a loyal Orange Countian through and through and wanted only the very best for its people. She was relentless in doing all that she could possibly do to keep the Quality of Life “always in tune”. “Marcy was a remarkable person because of her vision and her persistence,” said Douglas K. Freeman, Pacific Symphony board chairman at the time of her death. “She not only saw things this county was capable of doing, she insisted on getting them done.”
Through her inspiration, foresight and far-reaching ability to gather support, she was able to plant many seeds and nurture them to grow, mature and flower for the continuing benefit and enjoyment of us all.