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Stained-glass windows bring color, beauty, and a touch of the divine to the rooms and halls of Benefis Peace Hospice.
Bill Harp and Bill Zins collaborated on several stained-glass windows at the Hospice House, an extension of their lengthy friendship.
Bill Zins made the latest addition to the window collection to honor Bill Harp, who died Jan. 1 at age 78.
In Bill Harp’s window, arrowheads speak to growing up in North Dakota and his brothers; his service in the Boy Scouts is represented with the organization’s emblem. Doves represent his family and friends. Other symbols reflect his passion for announcing swim meets and baseball (made by friend Anita Kirby), for the local high schools, for his children, and for Sunrise Presbyterian Church. A large peace sign is for Bill and for Peace Hospice.
The watery glass and crossed canoe paddles (carved by Jim Casey) reflect both Bills’ involvement with the Old Milwaukee Stress Management Institute, a canoeing club where they explored Montana rivers together for more than 25 years.
“It’s something I wanted to do to honor him and remember him with what was important in his life,” Bill Zins said. “I hope people look at that and think, that guy sure did a lot of stuff.”
“He was very community-minded and part of a lot of organizations. You could rely on him. If he couldn’t get it done, he found someone who could. He loved his church, and he was a friend.”
Bill Zins and Bill Harps collaborated on a window in the Guy Tabacco Construction Co. Sending Room, where the deceased leave the Hospice House. The transom window features the 10th Street Bridge, fields, a rainbow, doves, and ascending light. The window is in memory of John Mora, who died in 2018.
Below, a sign reads: “Sending you with eternal peace and love.” It’s a place of last goodbyes.
In Room 4, they honored the final home of a friend and stained-glass shop owner who loved to watch the black swans at Gibson Park.
In Room 20, Bill Zins’ mother spent her final days. He honored her memory with a peace rose. At the same time they were preparing to lose her, a friend was saying goodbye to his wife. He asked Bill Zins to honor her with a window, too, and a transom bouquet of red tulips adds color and beauty to Room 11 now.
Bill Zins is a Hospice volunteer, and as he serves meals or visits patients, he tells them the stories of the windows he and Bill Harp made. They become part of the story of the room.
“It gives comfort and a sense of home,” he said. “They look at the windows differently.”
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