Construction continues in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park to create a large fountain with a water plume 30-feet high and an elliptical basin 75 feet by 50 feet. The area will include a paved walkway around the fountain, with greenery between it and the wall of the basin. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

Clarification: Thomas J. Kachel was an assistant professor in what was at the time called the Department of Fashion and Interior Design at Missouri State University, only later was it called the Art and Design Department.

A few Saturdays ago, I was running along the South Creek Greenway Trail when I saw construction work just north of Lake Drummond.

This spot is one of the trail’s more popular locations. I’m sure many of you are familiar with it. The Hosta Garden and the English Garden are nearby, as is the bronze statue of Anne Case Drummond.

Her statue is on a bench. Drummond has a book in her lap. She looks out on the small lake that bears her name. 

Each time I run by I am fooled for one-thousandth of a second, yet again, that a real person is on that bench enjoying the view.

Anne Marie Case Drummond died Feb. 2, 2002, at 93. She was a successful businesswoman and was involved in many civic organizations.  She was on the Springfield City Council from 1977 to 1983.

The year before she died, Drummond created an endowment through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks for the care of the lake.

I think she would be pleased by what is being built near her statue.

Artist rendering of the fountain area.

It will be a large fountain with a water plume 30-feet high and an elliptical basin 75 feet by 50 feet. 

There will be benches and a paved walkway around the fountain, with greenery between it and the wall of the basin. 

A device will be placed on the fountain so that the height of the water plume is lower on windy days.

Katie Keith, coordinator at the nearby Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center, says the fountain will be “elegant and artistic” and was a surprise gift from the estate of Thomas J. Kachel, who died in 2017 at 73.

Kachel was at Missouri State University for 32 years and was an assistant professor in the Department of Fashion and Interior Design. 

Keith says Kachel passed away without telling anyone at the Springfield-Greene County Park Board he was leaving funds for a fountain.

Map showing Lake Drummond and the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.

The fountain is within Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.

“It definitely was not part of our master plan,” Keith says.

Kachel thought the best location for the fountain would be near the Springfield Art Museum at Brookside Drive and National Avenue.

But the better location, Keith says, is near Lake Drummond because staff are nearby at the Botanical Center building, which will lead to better maintenance and monitoring.

The fountain is not designed for children or others to, for example, take off their shoes and put their feet in the water, Keith says.

Branco Enterprises of Neosho is the general contractor. 

The cost is $452,000, says Sean Thouvenot, vice president. He said that if all goes well the fountain will be finished in July.

More about Thomas J. Kachel

I found Kachel’s obituary in the News-Leader. He died Sept. 15, 2017, at 73. The obituary did not list any surviving family members.

It stated: “An avid reader, he was deeply passionate about gardening, the joy that his cats brought him, world travel, and gourmet cuisine.

“He took pride in maintaining a beautifully landscaped and appointed home. The time that he devoted to his residence was recognized by many within the community, and afforded him the ability to be featured in various publications throughout  the years.”

Kachel’s house was at 310 Cordova Court, near National Avenue and East Walnut Street. Richard Crabtree wrote about the house in 2018

Crabtree, a Springfield real estate agent, operates the Facebook page “Springfield, Missouri History, Landmarks & Vintage Photography.”  

The house was built in 1938.

Crabtree writes: “The person that would own the home the longest was Tom Kachel from 1979 to 2017. Tom taught interior design classes at Missouri State University.”

Before this year is over, Kachel’s love of design and gardening will be expressed once again — five years after his death — in what I expect to be a beautiful addition to our outstanding parks system.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin