Obituary for Brian W Mullins | Ryan Funeral Homes
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Brian W Mullins

July 6, 1955 ~ February 17, 2018 (age 62)

Brian W. Mullins, age 62, of Madison, Wisconsin passed away on February 17, 2018, surrounded by loved ones following a courageous battle with cancer.  A Visitation will be held at RYAN FUNERAL HOME, 2418 N. Sherman Ave., Madison on Friday, February 23, 2018, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  A Mass of Christian burial will be held at SAINT PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, 404 E. Main St., Madison on Saturday, February 24, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. (it will be preceded by a Visitation from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service).   A private family burial will be held on a later date.   Brian’s family invites all to a celebration of Brian’s life on the 2nd floor of the Park Hotel, 22 S. Carroll St., Madison on Saturday, February 24, 2018, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A beloved husband, devoted father, loving grandfather, dedicated son, supportive brother, friend to many, and prominent construction and real estate lawyer, Brian was born on July 6, 1955 in Madison, Wisconsin to Jerome (“Jerry”) J. Mullins and Carol M. Mullins (née Fessler). 

During high school, Brian met and fell in love with Pam and they have been inseparable ever since.  The high school sweethearts married in 1980 at St. Patrick’s Church in Madison.  Brian lived for his family, especially his children and grandchildren, and their accomplishments.  This was true more than ever during his battle with cancer as there was no medicine better than the calls, visits, hugs, notes, and videocalls from his grandchildren.

Brian had a passion for classic cars, fishing, hunting, golfing, various collections, the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Green Bay Packers.  His car enthusiast buddies knew him as an “Olds Guy,” his fishing buddies knew him as “the King,” and his hunting buddies knew him as “Big Willow.”  Beginning in the 1980s, Brian’s work took him to Alaska.  He was awed by the state’s majestic wildlife and tranquil natural beauty, which led to many more Alaska visits with family and friends over his lifetime.

Brian graduated in 1973 from Madison East High School and continued his education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1977 and a law degree in 1980.  Making use of his engineering degree, he became an excellent construction lawyer.

Brian began his distinguished legal career focusing on construction and real estate law with Moore, Costello, and Hart in Saint Paul, Minnesota before returning to Madison in 1983 to start the Midwest office of construction law firm Wickwire Gavin.  He enjoyed working with his colleagues and made many friends during his time at both firms.  In 2006, Brian joined the Madison-based law firm of Axley Brynelson, LLP and became a co-founder of their construction law group.  Brian enjoyed every day he worked in the office because of the wonderful culture for not only practicing law but also making close and deep friendships.

Throughout his life, Brian was consistently active in many legal and engineering professional organizations and contributed to the betterment of the professions.  He has been a strong supporter of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Civil and Environmental Engineering department.  Since 1980, he was one of the instructors of its Legal Aspects of Engineering course.  At various times, Brian served as a member of the boards of directors of many of the Wisconsin construction associations. 

Brian was one of the original founders of the construction and public contract law section of the State Bar of Wisconsin.  He served as its initial vice-chair and was subsequently chair of the section for several years.  For six of the past seven years, Brian was elected by his Wisconsin construction lawyer peers as Construction “Lawyer of the Year.”  He is the author of over 200 publications on construction and real estate legal matters.  Brian served on the Dispute Review Board for the Core and South Leg components of the Marquette Interchange and was the chair and a member of two Dispute Review Boards for the Zoo Interchange project.  Those two projects are among the largest public works projects in the history of Wisconsin.

As a result of the lasting improvements and impact he has made on the construction industry, this April, the UW Construction Club through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin - Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Construction Engineering and Management Program will honor Brian with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement in Construction Award.

Brian was overwhelmed during his battle with cancer by the love, support and prayers sent from around the country by family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.  It warmed his heart during the most difficult and trying period of his life.  He also appreciated the tender care and compassion that he received from doctors, nurses and other professionals during his cancer treatments at the UW Carbone Cancer Center and his hospice care through Agrace HospiceCare.

Brian is survived by his soulmate and wife of 38 years, Pam A. Mullins (née Magli); his son, Brian R. Mullins (Heather); his daughter, Ashley Kressin (Andrew); and his four grandchildren, Kailey Kressin, Madison Kressin, Grant Mullins, and Claire Mullins.  He is also survived by members of his close-knit family - mother, Carol M. Mullins; two sisters, Dr. Maureen Mullins (John Harting) and Mallory Mullins (Martin Lueck); two brothers, Brad Mullins (Kelly) and Jay Mullins (Sherrie); and many nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Brian W. Mullins Renal Cell Carcinoma Research Fund (fund #112580151) at the University of Wisconsin Foundation ( or the Brian Mullins Engineering and Law Scholarship Fund (fund # 132230010) at the University of Wisconsin Foundation (

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