BerkleyDecember 27, 2013
Library installs stained glass to honor longtime workers
By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer
BERKLEY — Whether looking at the Berkley Public Library from the inside or out, newly dedicated stained glass windows will shine light upon the building for two long-time library workers.
Jim Fritsch, who started a small business making stained glass panels a few years ago, designed three window panels to be installed in the library. Two of the panels are in memory of Fritsch’s late mother, Eileen Fritsch, who worked tirelessly for the Friends of the Berkley Library.
The other panel was dedicated in honor of Celia Morse, who served as library director for 30 years before retiring in 2013.
“I think it is a great reflection of the community this library serves,” Library Director Matt Church said. “It is nice to have such a lasting memory and dedication in the library that we can all look up and see and remember those two women so fondly.”
Jim Fritsch, 57, began his small stained glass business after he was phased out of a large wholesale company a few years ago. At the same time, he started working as a bartender for Bagger Dave’s in Berkley.
“I wanted to do something that would work around me bartending, and I started doing stained glass in my early 50s,” Fritsch said. “It turned out, I was really good at it, and the business flourished and I had more business than I knew what to do with. I am like a one-man show in town here.”
Every new Bagger Dave’s that opens up in southeast Michigan has a piece of stained glass created by Fritsch.
At the Berkley library, Fritsch has already had four larger stained glass panels installed in parts of the building — two right inside the front doors and two in the juvenile reading room. The Friends of the Berkley Library commissioned Fritsch to create one panel each for Eileen Fritsch and Morse, and Fritsch did the other panel for his mother free of charge.
“My mom passed away (October 2012) and she was a very active member of the Friends of the Library, and she supported the library,” Fritsch said. “When I started doing stained glass, she promoted my work to the Friends, and I was able to get my work into the library. Now, I can do one for my mom, one for Celia and a second one for my mother out of the goodness of my own heart to recognize my mom and give that gift to the library in my mom’s name.”
All three pieces created by Fritsch fit in with the architecture of the building, he said, having geometric lines and not a lot of curves. In Morse’s piece, Fritsch went away from his normal method and created a piece that resembles a quilt, one of Morse’s long-time hobbies.
“I think it was a wonderful gesture from the Friends of the Library, and I can’t imagine a better choice for something permanent; it is beautiful,” Morse said. “I’m just really delighted with it, and there are other windows made by the same glass artist, and I am really pleased with the design he chose for mine and just touched.”
To have a stained glass panel dedicated in her name alongside Eileen Fritsch, Morse said, was an honor in itself.
“Eileen was a library user for as far back as I can remember, and I was there for 30 years,” she said. “She was a feisty lady, and if I make it to her age, I hope I am equally so. She set a good example for the rest of us, and she had her opinions and wasn’t afraid to express them. I am very pleased to see the glass be made by one of her sons; it makes it even more special.”
For someone like Eileen Fritsch, who was a part of the Berkley community for so long, her son said that having a permanent reminder of her will benefit not only her family, but also the whole community.
“The way I look at it, it is a permanent expression of her memory that anyone that drives down Coolidge can see, and it is special in the fact that it reminds me and anybody else who sees it of my mom,” Fritsch said. “It is like planting a tree for someone or naming a building after someone. It helps keep her memory alive and recognizes the contributions she made in the physical outward way.
“Recognizing people that made a difference in our lives — isn’t that what everyone wants to do?”