Catholic Free Press

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Artistry abounds

Posted By July 5, 2012 | 1:19 pm | Lead Story #2
paulson windowsWEB

UPTON – People throughout the diocese have gazed upon the work of Carl Edmund Paulson for years. Unbeknownst to many, the artisan who fashioned the stained glass windows in more than a dozen diocesan churches lived here among them.
Mr. Paulson, 98, of Ridge Road, died peacefully July 1 at home, surrounded by his family. A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Wednesday at his parish, St. Gabriel the Archangel Church, where mourners were surrounded by his work.
Mr. Paulson  was predeceased by his wife of 60 years Mary (Krenzer) Paulson in 2002, their daughter Elin Paulson in 2006 and a grandson Dennis. He leaves two daughters, Rose McCoy and husband Dan of Webster Grove, Mo., and Honduras, and Helena Joyner and husband Steve of Pensacola, Fla.
He leaves seven sons, Dennis Paulson and wife Pat of Santa Rosa, Calif., Daniel Paulson and wife Homi of Athens, La., Ken Paulson and wife Kristin, and Stephen Paulson, of Upton, Carl Paulson and wife Dana of Hampden, David Paulson and wife Leslie Whitcomb of West Burke, Vt., and Ray Paulson and wife Meredith Goodhue of Lowell.
Besides his 10 children, Carl had 26 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren, and many foster children.
Carl’s parents, Gerda B. (Petersson) and Carl Julius Paulson, were born in Sweden.
He  was born in Providence on Oct 6, 1913 and spoke only Swedish when he entered school. After graduating from Providence Technical High School in 1931, he decided he wanted to become an artist. He entered a competition at Boston’s Vesper George School of Art with a pen and ink design, a poster, and a still life painting. He won second place and a four-year scholarship.
He often visited the nearby Charles Connick Stained Glass Art Studio where he befriended Stephen Bridges, a glass medallion apprentice. When Mr. Bridges entered a Benedictine Monastery, Mr. Paulson was offered the apprentice position. Mr. Connick, author of “Adventures in Light & Color Stained Glass Craft,” was a perfectionist. He taught Mr. Paulson how to become an expert stained glass artisan. The Connick Foundation called Mr. Paulson a “Master Medallion Maker” in their fall 2011 newsletter.
He also started to do small stained glass projects on his own. In 1939 he created religious glass medallions for Pius Co-op Bookstore in Boston. “Yankee Magazine” called Mr. Paulson “the best stained glass medallion maker in New England.”
In 1940, he designed and created his first stained glass windows for Elmwood Christian Church in Providence, where he also taught Sunday School.
In 1941, having converted to Catholicism, he moved to Upton to help John Magee and Bill Roche with the St. Benedict Catholic Worker Farm. Through Ade Bethune and Dorothy Day, he met and married Mary Krenzer in 1942. He bought his Ridge Road cabin from Catholic Workers for $150 to set up his home and stained glass “Raven Shop.”
Mr. Paulson named his stained glass business the “Raven Shop,” because the name is symbolic. In a Catholic Free Press story Sept. 15, 2006, he said, “The raven is a bird and he’s the guy that fed somebody in the Old Testament. I named mine the Raven Shop because I didn’t go out and get my work. The postman dropped it in the mailbox or the telephone rang.”
People’s questions about the name gave him “a chance to give some good spiritual information,” he said. He said that when his son Ken took over the business he changed the name to Paulson’s Stained Glass Studio.
Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement and a Servant of God, once said that  Mr. Paulson’s life “in poverty and hard work … is one of beauty and richness and order.”
Co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Peter Maurin, once said, “Carl Paulson’s work as a stained glass artist appealed to the many workers who wished to restore the craft ethos of the Middle Ages, as well as providing his family with a somewhat more secure economic basis than farming alone.”
During World War II, Carl refused to be drafted into the Army, saying: “I believe that God dwells in each of us and that we should love everyone.” When the authorities realized his strong faith prevented him from killing people, they released him from federal prison into alternative service as a medic at the Augusta (Maine) State Hospital until May 1946. They did give him weekend visits, so he could be with his family to work on his Upton farm.
In 1947, his friend Robert Amendola (sculptor of “Young George Washington Carver” at the Carver Monument), introduced Mr. Paulson to the architect, Alfred Reinhardt, who was in charge of building the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Connecticut. Mr. Paulson submitted colored drawings of design ideas and won his first large commission.
This helped to propel his career of 60 years, creating more than 1,000 stained glass windows, mostly in New England.
Mr. Paulson taught all of his children how to make stained glass. One of their largest windows (40 ft. by 40 ft). is at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Worcester, titled “God is with us.” His son Ken and his grandson Lars Paulson continue to run the glass studio.
Mr. Paulson and his wife were devout Catholics and raised their 10 children (two of whom were adopted) and their numerous foster children to love God, work hard, get a good education, and help others. He loved everyone, especially children, so he joined Upton Grange in 1947 and was the leader of the Junior Grange. He taught religious education at Holy Angels Parish, now St. Gabriel the Archangel, from 1953 until 2007.
As a member of Worcester Organic Gardening Club, he taught all he knew how to garden. He assisted Abbie Hoffman with the “Worcester Interracial Social Project” by helping inner-city kids plant and tend W.I.S.P. gardens on vacant city lots. In his spare time, he had a ministry visiting and writing to prisoners.
Paulson’s Stained Glass Studios created windows for churches of many denominations as well as for schools, convents and other buildings throughout the New England states and New York. According to information provided by the studio, Paulson windows have been installed in the following churches in the Worcester Diocese:
St. Francis Xavier, Bolton; St. Denis, East Douglas; Madonna of the Holy Rosary, Fitchburg; Holy Spirit, Gardner; Sacred Heart of Jesus, Hopedale; St. Jude, Leicester; Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Mary of the Assumption, Milford; Sacred Heart of Jesus, West Brookfield, and Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Assumption college; Our Lady of the Angels, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joan of Arc, Worcester.
The Paulsons installed the windows in St. Joan of Arc in 1978. One of those windows memorialized the events of the 1953 Worcester tornado, which caused death and destruction in much of the parish neighborhood.
Ken Paulson said a medallion his father made, along with his own imagination and research, helped him design  the windows for the hall between St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Milford and the parish center.
The studio also created windows for St. Michael’s Church in Mendon and Holy Angels Church in Upton, Mr. Paulson’s parish. When those two parishes were merged and became St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish last year, the studio moved all the windows from those two churches and installed them in St. Gabriel’s.
An art show of Mr. Paulson’s works is planned Sept. 8 and 9, in celebration of the first anniversary of the formation and consecration of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish.
Also planned is the installation, on either side of the altar, of two stained glass windows made by Ken Paulson  dedicated to his parents,
Carl and Mary. One window will depict Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. The other will depict the Blessed Mother as Mary, the woman of the night of faith.