September 28, 2022
Saint Francis Health System recently donated a sculpture to the Poplar Bluff Public Library Foundation. In mid-July, ownership of the work “Gulls” by Tom Runnels was officially transferred from Saint Francis to the Foundation. It is now on permanent loan to the Poplar Bluff Public Library, located directly above the circular staircase on the ground floor.
Cletus Eugene “Tom” Runnels, a carver for 30 years, was originally from Bollinger County, Missouri, and spent most of his life practicing his craft at the Cat Ranch just outside of Marble Hill. He is best known for his welded metal work as well as other paintings, drawings and murals. Runnels worked primarily on commission.
Started in the mid-1970s, “Gulls” was commissioned by the Kneibert Clinic and three of its physicians – Dr. Fred Caldwell, Dr. George Ladyman and Dr. William Traxel, Jr. For years, the piece hung in the hall-staircase. of the Kneibert Clinic. When the clinic became the property of the Saint Francis Healthcare System, ownership of the sculpture was transferred to that entity. Saint Francis is now proud to present the coin as a gift to the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library Foundation, a library financial planning officer.
“Many patients and staff have enjoyed gazing at the magnificent Kneibert Clinic sculpture since 1974. With the relocation of all staff and providers from the Kneibert Clinic building to Saint Francis Poplar Bluff Medical Center at 225 Physicians Park Drive , it is wonderful that the sculpture will remain in downtown Poplar Bluff for all to enjoy,” said Ruth Ann Newman, Saint Francis Practice Director and longtime Kneibert Clinic administration member. .
“We are honored to receive this exceptional work of art from such a distinguished local artist,” said Kathy Sanders, President of the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library Foundation. “Hopefully the public can enjoy it for years to come in its prominent location at the municipal library. »
Plans are underway to honor this special gift with a reception at the Main Library on Sunday, October 16, from 2-4 p.m. The public is invited to attend.