As I drove to work down highway thirty six, I was surprised to see heavy equipment at work on a building in the metropolis of Lyons, Texas (pop 150).
It was tearing down a venerable brick building.
The structure had stood empty for years, but it had been the studio of a friend, so I had always noticed it because of a stained glass art nouveau window as I passed.
Ludwig Schermer, my friend, had died years before. He was a liturgical artist, which means he designed places of worship and stained glass windows.
He was of the “Great Generation”, but he was not American. Of course by the time I knew him he had become a naturalized American citizen.
As a young man, however, he had been a member of the German army, during World War II.
At that time Germany and America were enemies.
After the war Ludwig had immigrated to the USA. He once told me of a time when he had been on the Russian front in winter. They were short of rations, clothing, ammunition and even tobacco. He said they were stripping the bark off of fence posts to crumble and roll up in paper to smoke.
When he came to the United States in the ‘fifties he attended college in Chicago to study liturgical art.
Religion and humanism were very important to Ludwig.
In time he did art work and design work for great cathedrals in Chicago. He became a major American stained glass artist.
Late in life he married and moved to Texas.
Finally he established a studio in Lyons, in Burleson county, which had once been a depot for the Santa Fe railroad.
Santa Fe, in Spanish, means Holy Faith.
Now, Lyons is a mere crossroads of FM 60 and State 36, with a post office, a restaurant, and a filling station.
Among other projects in Texas, Ludwig built stained glass windows for the Harmony Baptist Church, and helped redesign the sanctuary and windows for St Mary’s Catholic Church in Caldwell.
He put a small stained glass window high up on the wall of his shop in Lyons, which faced the highway.
It was something that I always looked for as a reminder of my friend, Ludwig, long after his death.
Now, the window is gone, along with the building. But my memories of that exciting little German artist remain, a man whose faith bridged two war torn countries, and whose legacy is one of beauty in my county.