By Paul W. Barada
---- — This column is about one of the nicest, most accomplished people I know. It’s about Markus Strobl. Not too long ago, Markus ran a successful business here. He called it “The Glasermeister” because that’s what he is, a master craftsman in glass. Churches far and near reflect his skill and training through their huge restored stained glass windows. Markus has also created beautiful smaller stained glass works of art for a variety of purposes during his career.
Beyond that, Markus is a highly educated man with a proclivity for military history and, of all things, creating military miniatures with an attention to detail that is hard to imagine unless you see it – and care about that particular hobby. An interest in military miniatures is something Markus and I share in common. I’ve collected lead soldiers since I was a kid. It’s not a hobby for everyone, nor is it a hobby in which large numbers of people engages; but, if you enjoy holding history in your hand, creating or collecting military miniatures could be a passion.
Markus Strobl is originally from Cologne, Germany. His family has been involved, in one way or the other, in glass for four generations. He has the equivalent of a Master’s degree in glass craftsmanship. Since moving here, though, Markus has been more than just a unique craftsman restoring deteriorated stained glass windows or creating works of art in glass. He has been our high school soccer coach. He has been active in his church. He’s the father to two daughters, and he’s a marvelous addition to this community. He’s engaging, he’s hospitable, and he has a wonderful, clever, personality. Simply stated, Markus is just fun to be around. Anyone who has ever attended one of the parties at his home on the northwest corner of Third and Perkins knows that he loves to have a good time.
From the first day he came here, he became involved in community life in a constructive and genuine way. Within a very short period of time, his home was filled with new friends, and he quickly became an accepted member of the community – a feat that not everyone who moves here can so readily accomplish. But Markus does it with his sincerity, enthusiasm and style.
Markus occasionally helps us in our business when we need someone fluent in German to assist us in checking references in that part of the world. As an active member or our Rotary Club, Markus has made even more friends among the membership. It is during Rotary meetings that he and I have had the chance to talk about military history. I remember one Rotary meeting in particular when the guest speaker was a representative from the new Holocaust Museum in Washington. I remember feeling very uncomfortable thinking of Markus sitting there listening to the speaker talk about the terrible days in Germany during the Nazi era when Jews and other minorities deemed undesirables were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. At the end of the presentation, however, Markus stood and made it clear that, as far as he was concerned, no one should ever be allowed to forget The Holocaust and what can happen when a country turns its back on democratic principles – making the point that a holocaust could happen again somewhere else in the world. Again, Markus handled what I thought was a touchy subject with sincerity and candor.
One of the favorite collectibles from my childhood was a model of the queen’s coronation coach, made by William Britain’s Ltd. The set includes not only the coach, but also six matching gray horses and three outriders, all in 58mm size. Somehow over the years the crown on the top of the coach had been lost. At a toy soldier show a few years ago, of all places, in a box of odds and ends that one of the dealers had, I found an identical loose crown that fit my model coach! I bought it for a nominal amount, took it home, called Markus, and, before I knew it, he had welded the new crown back in its proper position on top of the coronation coach! A little gilt paint and my coronation coach was as good as new. Because Markus makes his own lead soldiers, he understood my desire to restore that tiny coach. Obviously, repairing coronation coaches isn’t his business; but, because he is my friend, he was happy to help. That’s just the sort of guy he is.
As many already know, Markus is very ill. Connie and I went to see him at home a week ago yesterday. We stayed about an hour. We talked about model soldiers and the odd twists and turns life can take. I profoundly regret to tell you that it is my understanding his illness is terminal. I sincerely hope that is not the case, but I’m afraid it is. Nevertheless, he would like to have visitors; but, if you would like to stop by, I would urge you to call ahead. His illness causes him to tire very quickly.
For those of you who know him or, even if you don’t, now is the time to offer up a prayer for the immortal soul of my friend, Markus Strobl. I recall a passage from the Book of Matthew that seems to be an appropriate way to conclude this column about Markus. I believe it reads, “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant…”
That’s -30- for this week.