Westminster Presbyterian Church

“I am the vine, you are the branches”

This is a small brochure I ran across when I was sorting through my “dad stuff” (more evidence of the ways this project seems to thwart and inspire me at the same time). The windows were completed in 1979. The pamphlet was created for a re-dedication ceremony of the windows 35 years later in 2014. My humble father was the guest of honor. It was a remarkable evening and it meant so much to my dad; to have his work acknowledged in a relatively big way. Each photo describes in detail the message and intent of the design.

It is another piece in the puzzle, and another project I can add to the crazy database I’ve been compiling. Eventually I’ll have enough information to construct a map – a virtual tour – of his projects. Woot!

If you’re in Ann Arbor, I encourage you to visit Westminster Presbyterian Church at 1500 Scio Church Rd., to view these windows in person.


Then What Happened?

…We did make some progress though

We were able to make contact with a few of the churches in the bible, including the Dominican Sisters Motherhouse in Oxford, MI. They provided us with these photos, and I believe this is one of my dad’s most beautiful projects, ever. When I showed my mom the photo of St. Rose (below) she said “nobody could paint on glass like your dad”. And I looked at the photo again and thought, wow, you’re right. I mean, look at her. Really, look.

When I see St. Rose, I see absolute beauty and creativity and raw talent. And I remember, as overwhelming and frustrating as this sporadic endeavor has been, I know that this is my purpose. And I know that his work deserves to be seen.

How this thing got started…

After years of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, my dad took an inevitable fall in October of 2016, landing him in the hospital. The hospital stay lead to a nearly deadly bout of sepsis, which lead to major surgery. He spent another month in the hospital and experienced a miraculous (if temporary) recovery. Richard ended up in a nursing home in early January 2017. He was essentially bedridden; he had limited physical mobility. But his mind was all there.

Acutely aware that his time was limited (on his first night, orderlies wheeled a deceased patient past his room) my dad and I spent the last 6 months of his life on a mission to locate, organize, and catalog the large body of his stained glass works. My father was a brilliant artist and lived his life valuing art, music and culture. But he was a lousy record-keeper. That’s where my left brain comes in, albeit sporadically. (Keep reading and you’ll get it).

Armed with my laptop, some blurry photos, old slides, and what we called “the bible” (complete with chicken scratch notes in the margins), I’d head to the nursing home. I was tanned, rested and more than ready to compile a beautiful database of my dad’s 40+ years of work. (Meanwhile, my dad’s stained glass projects weren’t limited to Catholic Churches, and my left brain was twitching). We did make some progress though…

The bible and the chicken scratch notes
Richard’s notes in the margins of a Catholic Church Directory from 1993.

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