Elizabeth Sprinkel loved to swim in the ocean, no matter what the season. The 48-year-old Severna Park woman didn't care if the water was cold or warm or far away.
In early July last year, a week before she and her two grandchildren died in a car accident on Ritchie Highway, she was at her mother's house in Branford, Conn., diving beneath the waves off the New England coast.
"She could swim in any weather," said Maggie Coleman, one of Sprinkel's closest friends. "She could swim for hours. We went snorkeling in the Caribbean one year and she stayed in the water forever without any flippers on."
So it seems appropriate that a ceremony honoring Sprinkel and the two children -- 4-year-old Jordan Sprinkel and 14-year-old Janine Pomichter -- involve the water.
On Saturday, family and friends revealed their memorial: a stained-glass window at the Whitehurst clubhouse depicting the great blue heron, the largest and best-known of the American herons and the symbol of the Chesapeake Bay.
"I would only do it if it would be a happy memory ofher," said Bobbie Burnett, a stained-glass artist who created and donated the window.
"Because of the nature of (Sprinkel's death), I felt the memorial had to have a very special significance."
The accident that claimed the three lives led to one of toughest auto manslaughter sentences ever in Anne Arundel County.
But the 10 years Louis Daily, 30, of Glen Burnie, will spend in jail wasn't enough for family members, who packed a courtroom in May and publicly condemned the man.
Daily plead guilty in February to speeding south on Ritchie Highway, with his headlights off, when his car crossed the median at Earleigh Heights Road and hit a northbound Toyota driven by Sprinkel. Daily admitted to being under the influence of PCP when the accident occurred.
Sprinkel and Jordan died the night of the crash. Janine, who was visiting from Connecticut, died two weeks later.
The heron, Coleman said, will make an appropriate memorial for many reasons. Sprinkel was tall and graceful, loved the Chesapeake Bay and "had her own style."
Sprinkel also loved hats, which is represented with one feather on the heron's head.
"She could wear a hat no one else could wear, and she always looked good," Coleman said. "She was a classy lady."
Burnett said it took her months to design and createthe glass window, which is 5 feet by 2 feet.
"It takes a while tocome up with the idea," she said. "I go out to the place and look atthe setting. I just don't do it."
As designed, the heron will always gaze out over the Magothy River.
The light blue and white background will allow people to see through the window to the water. And as the light outside changes color, so too will the window.
"It will change as the seasons change," Burnett said. "I like to do things that are symbolic."