Johann Minten, an internationally known stained-glass artist and former Milwaukee resident who crafted windows in churches, passed away Saturday, May 15, in Wauwatosa from cancer. He was 92.
Born in Klein Kevelaer, Germany, on Nov. 22, 1928, Minten was the eldest of five children and began working as a stained-glass apprentice when he was just 14 in Krefeld, at Hein Derix’s Glass Studio School.
Minten’s career spanned 70 years, and he was one of the last remaining classically trained stained-glass artists in the world. For more than 40 of those years, he worked for the former Esser Glass Company in Milwaukee, later transferring to the Oakbrook Esser Studios after the studio sold.
According to his goddaughter, Aruna M. Halala-Vishudh, the owner of Oakbrook Esser Studios, she would not purchase the business unless Minten agreed to work there.
“Uncle Johann has spent his life designing and painting stained-glass windows, which are in churches and buildings all over the country and world. He has windows that he designed in Kevealer at the Chapel of the Seven Sorrows. He also designed the new windows at St. Jerome Church in Oconomowoc,” she said. “He designed windows at restaurants named the Audubon Inn, the Seven Seas, the Golden Mast, County Clare, Dos Banditos, and numerous others.
“He designed windows at St. Jerome, St. Clare’s Church in North Lake, Sacred Heart Parish in Horicon, Armenian Churches, Trinity Lutheran Church in Waukesha, St. Mary’s in Hales Corners, Queen of Apostles Church in Pewaukee, St. William Church in Waukesha, Nashotah House Seminary, windows at Holy Hill, and windows at Wisconsin Memorial Park, to just name a few.”
After St. Jerome’s built their new church building, Minten designed the large window in front of the altar and those in the adoration chapel and the church.
“He was a faithful member there until his sickness,” said Halala-Vishudh, “Fr. John Yockey refers to him lovingly when he talks about the care taken in designing the windows and how he even polished them before the formal opening. His fellow parishioners loved Uncle Johann.”
In addition to masterpieces in churches worldwide, Minten worked for another renowned stained-glass artisan, Leo Cartwright. After Cartwright died in the 1960s, Minten completed many of his projects.
“Uncle Johann used his expertise, a wealth of knowledge and training in order to match the windows in the Cartwright style. He created the windows in the choir loft opposite of Cartwright’s in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist,” said Halala-Vishudh. “He is also one of only a few licensed stained-glass artists to create Frank Lloyd Wright windows and was certified through the Frank Lloyd Wright Society.”