Someone You Should Know: Prairie Creek resident creates stained glass while making friends

Norm Eitrheim started learning how to make stained glass from another resident, Virgil Christensen.
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 8:09 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Sioux Falls man living in the Good Samaritan Society’s Prairie Creek community is building friendships with other residents while learning how to create stained glass from one of them.

Norm Eitrheim had never done any stained glass before he started working with Virgil Christensen. Christensen started making stained glass about 15 to 20 years ago. He used to be a builder and had a hobby in woodworking until he discovered stained glass. Now, Christensen sticks to teaching though.

“I suggest and criticize, and he does the work. Great for me,” Christensen said.

It keeps Eitrheim busy because making stained glass can be tedious.

“If you make a mistake in wood, you probably can do some sanding or scraping or whatever,” he said. “But in glass, it has to be precision, and there isn’t much forgiveness.”

At 91 years old, this is an outlet for him to be creative. He doesn’t sell the art but gives it to family or donates it.

“And you see pieces that Norm and Virgil have done right from the beginning, and they’re hanging in the library and in the windows,” Judy Ryan said. She lives in the Prairie Creek community as well and has started making stained glass.

The art does more than just add color to a room in the Prairie Creek Lodge. It brings residents like Norm, Virgil, and Judy together. So when the pandemic hit earlier this year, it was hard.

“I was not permitted to come here, to come into the lodge, where we had the stained glass studio,” Netrheim said. “So there were a number of months, where I did nothing with stained glass.”

Now they’re able to reconnect though at a distance. The residents said it takes about three to four months or even longer to finish a stained glass project.

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