The woodwork for the chapel in Central Kansas Medical Center, now St. Rose Health Center, was crafted by Herman Dreiling from Hays. Herman, born in Victoria in 1896, was the father of Noreen (Dreiling) Duncan. Noreen and her husband James Duncan were residents of Great Bend from 1951 to 2013. They moved to Lenexa in 2013 to be closer to their children who all live in the Johnson County area. All four children (John, Tim, Mike, and Ann) graduated from Great Bend High School.
With the imminent demolition of the circles, St. Rose officials announced that the altar, pews and lattice from the chapel would find new uses. Michael Duncan said the family was “very pleased to learn that virtually all the furnishings were able to be used in other chapel and worship facilities.”
Duncan provided a brief history of his grandfather’s work on the hospital:
When the Sisters built their new convent in 1940, Sister Marcella Lanwehr knew of Dreiling, owner of Hays Planing Mill, whose specialty was church furniture. She contacted him about building the furnishings for the convent chapel, which he did.
When it came time for the chapel in the new hospital to be built, Sister Marcella again contacted Dreiling. He had retired and sold the Hays Planing Mill in 1957, but stayed on as advisor and employee. He agreed to take on the new job with the assistance of the new owner, Wilber Pfeifer, and Herman’s 11-year-old grandson, John Duncan, when he was available.
One of the Sisters from the convent designed the grill work for the wall behind the altar with liturgical symbols and Dreiling crafted them accordingly.
The furniture was built at the Hays Planing Mill in 1963 and brought to Great Bend to be installed in the chapel on the fifth floor of Central Kansas Medical Center. Dreiling completed all the furniture but before he was able to install it he passed away on Jan. 30, 1964.
The new owner completed the installation. Open house for the hospital was in March 1964.