In Memory of



Obituary for Dr. Carel Mulder

Dr. Carel Mulder, 95, died on August 31, 2023, in Newton, MA.

Born in Arnhem, The Netherlands on the 19th of March 1928, the second of 3 sons.

During the German occupation of the Netherlands, Carel, his brothers, and their father were active in the resistance effort. Each had many high risk encounters while distributing resistance literature on bicycles throughout the country. Small in stature, Carel’s family adjusted his papers so that he presented as younger than the Nazi draft age. His older brother was not so lucky. He was rounded up by the Nazi’s but managed to escape and remained in hiding for the remainder of the occupation.

Carel and his brothers were avid mountain climbers, scaling many mountains in the Austrian, German, and Swiss Alps. He passed on his love of the outdoors to his children through many camping and hiking trips in US national parks across the country, into Mexico and Canada.

His interest in saving populations from the burden of disease sent him on a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. After obtaining a Bachelor's degree (BS) in chemistry from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in biochemistry from Trinity College at Oxford University in England he directed a laboratory at the University of Leiden. In 1965, he and his wife brought their growing family to Cambridge, Massachusetts to work at Harvard University where he learned more about the emerging field of microbiology.

His advancing career took him to appointments at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in New York. He later described his time at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories as the most productive and exciting years of his career, surrounded by Nobel laureates and other top scientists from around the world.

He returned to the University of Leiden for a short period before joining the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, with a joint appointment in the departments of pharmacology and microbiology. He was well known in scientific circles and became an expert on several viruses. He held one patent and published many papers.

After retiring from UMass at age 70 as professor emeritus, he remained active in the field, reviewing journal articles for many years.

His lifelong passion for equality and fairness undergirded his volunteer and social justice work, both locally and globally. He led the successful 1992 Healthcare for All ballot initiative in Worcester, was an early member of the Worcester Common Ground Land Trust, and, since its inception in 1996, has participated in Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s campaigns to support grassroots candidates in local races. He was the first member from Worcester on the original committee to elect Representative Jim McGovern to the House of Representatives.

He helped several scientists escape from dictatorships, including from Idi Amin’s Uganda and Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Romania. He worked with South Africa Partners for many years in support of efforts to bring down apartheid in South Africa.

Carel brought his scientific and his volunteer work together when he initiated a program to bring medical students from UMass to Uganda and later to South Africa to support cross-cultural learning. In both places, he taught modern research techniques to foster intercontinental collaborations. For this work, he received awards from both the governor of Massachusetts and Nelson Mandela, then president of South Africa.

In 2021, he moved from his home of 47 years in Worcester, MA to Lasell Village in Newton, MA, where he enjoyed taking classes and participating in the vibrant, welcoming community of retirees.

Carel Mulder will be missed by his family and friends, but his kindness, generosity, and contributions to science and social justice will carry on.

Predeceased by his parents the late Diederik K. Mulder and Marie C. Stolle and his two dear brothers.

Carel is survived by his four devoted and loving children: Maarten and his wife Wendy, Kaj and his wife Alysia, Marieke and her partner Randy, Heleneke and her wife Tania. In addition, his eight adoring grandchildren: Tom, Elleke, Ian, Rosalee, Carl, Kiana, Louie, and Destiny.

A Memorial Service in celebration of Carel’s life will take place in October (please check our website for updates).

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Donations in Carel’s loving memory may be made to Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts at

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