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Memorial Service for Senior Advisor Rowan LeCompte
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 Posted: Wed Apr 30th, 2014 08:46 pm
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Mary Clerkin Higgins
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There will be a memorial service for Rowan LeCompte at the Washington National Cathedral on Monday, July 21st at 10AM.  All are invited to attend.  Rowan was a Senior Advisor of the American Glass Guild.

“Rowan LeCompte, who designed more than 40 stained glass windows for the Washington National Cathedral, died Feb. 11 at age 88.  From the time of his first, fateful visit to Washington National Cathedral, Mr. LeCompte knew that was where he belonged. He designed more of the cathedral’s 231 windows than any other artist, including the 16 clerestory, or upper-level, windows lining the full length of the nave, altogether designing more than 40 of the cathedral’s windows, including its largest and most spectacular, the “Creation” rose window above the western entrance facing Wisconsin Avenue NW. When the circular window was dedicated in 1976, Washington Post architecture critic Wolf Von Eckardt hailed it as “surely one of the masterpieces of Christendom.”

As a child, Mr. LeCompte had hopes of being either an artist or an architect. A life devoted to stained glass allowed him to be both.  There was no school to study an art that was more medieval than modern, so he learned on his own, with occasional tutorials from other masters. He lived in New York for several years and, early in his career, designed windows for churches in Baltimore and Hartford. His windows are in the New York governor’s office, churches across the country, medical facilities and the Princeton University campus.

Rowan Keith LeCompte was born March 17, 1925, in Baltimore. He served in the Army during World War II and participated in the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Paris. He received the Purple Heart.  His first wife, the former Irene Matz, helped with some of his designs before her death in 1970. She is buried in a crypt at Washington National Cathedral.

Mr. LeCompte lived in Waterford, Va., for many years before settling in the Shenandoah Valley town of Waynesboro. A documentary about his life, “Let There Be Light,” was completed by filmmaker Peter Swanson in 2012. Survivors include his wife of 39 years, Peggy Money LeCompte of Waynesboro, Va., four stepchildren and five grandchildren.

Mr. LeCompte was not simply trying to re-create a lost art. As early as 1955, he said, he wanted to have stained glass “assert itself as a great modern art.”  He aimed for three qualities in every window: clarity, richness and sparkle.

In 1972, he received the commission for his greatest work, the west rose window at the cathedral. His theme was nothing less than creation, based on the passage from Genesis: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep . . . And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ ”  At its unveiling in 1976, viewers were astonished at how the eye was drawn from one cluster of light to the next, as if viewing a painting by Helen or Jackson Pollock. The colors sparkled, faded and glowed, changing by the hour and imparting a sense of mystery and, in the eyes of many, the divine. Von Eckhart, the Post critic, called it “a glorious hallejujah in colored light.”

In 1990, construction of the cathedral was finally completed after 83 years. But Mr. LeCompte kept going, creating new windows and replacing others. He designed his final window about four years ago, but it has yet to take its place in the cathedral’s firmament.

Quiet and modest, Mr. LeCompte seldom spoke of his religious beliefs, except to say, “I believe in kindness and love, and there are those who say that those are God.” ”

Condensed from the Washington Post obituary written by Matt Shundel.



 Posted: Fri Jul 18th, 2014 06:39 pm
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Mary Clerkin Higgins
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I'm looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues at Rowan LeCompte's Memorial Service at the Washington National Cathedral this Monday, June 21st at 10am.  For those who can't attend, the cathedral will be live streaming the service starting promptly at 10:00 via the cathedral’s home page: http://www.nationalcathedral.org. By Monday afternoon video of the service will be available ‘on-demand’ on the same site. 

Best, Mary



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