SGAA President’s Message: Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

By B. Gunar Gruenke
Published in SGAA Stained Glass Quarterly - Winter 2008

President’s Message:
Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

With this issue falling between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am compelled to give thanks.  Most importantly, I would like to give thanks to God for all he has given us.  Many of us - most in fact - make our livings designing and installing timeless stained glass artworks in churches.  So, besides our health, family and happiness, we must be thankful to Christ for every single thing we have and every single opportunity we are given.  I’m not saying that those who don’t sell to the church need not be thankful, but those of us who do need be “extra” appreciative. 

A special thanks also goes out to my family: my wife, Leslie; my two daughters, Maddie and Abi; my sister, Heidi; my Mom and Dad, Bernie and Diane; and my Grandpa, Bernard O.  Senior, as he is known.  He will be 96 years young this February. 

Without his days of starvation, strong will and dedication, my life as I know it would not be today.  Not only am I thankful for the opportunities he has given me, but also the daily inspirations.  His spirituality, strength and perseverance could run a car on fumes across the nation.   

Additionally, we as an Association owe our deepest gratitude to individuals such as William Blenko, Robert Jones, Otto Winterich, Crosby Willet, James Helf, Gerhard Hiemer, John Kebrle, Truett George, Dennis Harmon, Gary Helf, Karen Hendrix, Elizabeth Perry, Paul Pickel, Kirk Weaver, Florence Welborn, and Andy Young; and all of the past members, committee members, and Board members. 

The founding members in the early years of the Association included Ludwig Von Gerichten, Joseph E. Flanagan, George Mueller, Karl Steward, Frederick Lamb, H.H. Jacoby, Henry Hunt, Charles Connick, Nicola D’Ascenzo, Henry Lee Willet, Harold Cummings, Harold Rambusch, and many others.  They must be remembered and thanked for giving us this great Association to participate in.  I am confident that they would be proud that we are on the cusp of owning our first headquarters.  Thanks to those who have worked so hard to make it a reality, and a sincere thanks to everyone who has donated to its success. 

Christmas brings times where many think of Santa Clause and the presents we receive.  This year may bring the smallest, in monetary measurements, that we have ever received; however, they will be the very best.  Gifts that are homemade, cards from the heart, or even simple gifts of kindness or gestures are the best of all.  After all, “random acts of kindness please God and cleanse the soul.”

The New Year brings us opportunity.  It brings a new life, a new beginning, and a bright future.  We are able to wash away the “not so perfect” things we’ve done or that have happened, and start fresh.  We make our New Years resolutions, and strive to grow as individuals. 

As an Association, I’d like to see our resolution be “to embrace more qualified types of art glass into the Stained Glass Association of America.”  In the SGAA Reference & Technical Manual, the definition of stained glass is, “glass is colored during manufacture with metal oxides, cut into a design, and assembled to make a window or other object.”  This definition is very broad and limiting in its essence. 

Today, stained glass is a much broader term, encompassing all architectural art glass, leaded glass, etched glass, faceted glass, art glass, hot glass, fused glass and slumped glass.  We cannot draw a line in the sand and limit our creativity to that of traditional leaded stained glass.  We must open our minds, our membership, and magazine to all levels of glass creativity. 

Finally, I especially give thanks to Richard and Katei Gross and the members of the Stained Glass Association of America that I have been fortunate enough to get to know and become great friends. 

Thank you all.  Blessings this Holiday Season.  Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! 

B. Gunar Gruenke

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