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Family donates art collection to PSU

July 01, 2014 9:30AM


The family of Dr. William and Norma Reals gathered in the University Gallery on July 3 to formally present a significant gift of artwork in their parents’ name to PSU.

The gift, which is now part of the university’s permanent collection, includes 31 works by two well-known artists, Birger Sandzen and Lester Raymer.

Sandzen was a Swedish-American painter who was known for his landscapes of Kansas and the southwest. He was also a long-time member of the faculty at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. Oklahoma-born Raymer also settled in Lindsborg, his wife’s home. He operated a busy studio in Lindsborg until his death in 1991.

The art was collected by Dr. and Mrs. Reals over the course of a lifetime and occupied an important place in their home until after their deaths. Dr. Reals died in 2002.  Mrs. Reals died in 2013.

Dr. William Reals was dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita. Norma Monahan Reals was born in Pittsburg and was the daughter of Francis Monahan, a former mining engineer.

Previously, Dr. and Mrs. Reals donated a 10-acre tract of land in Cherokee County as the site for the KRPS radio station tower and a 156-acre tract of land dedicated as the Francis A. Monahan Outdoor Education Center in honor of Mrs. Reals’ late father. 

Bill Reals Jr., who represented the 5 Reals children, 18 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren at the event, said donating the art to PSU’s permanent collection was his parents’ wish.

“Our connection to the greater PSU community runs deep,” Reals said, noting there were seven PSU graduates in the crowd. “We hope you enjoy this collection as much as our family has enjoyed it over the years.”

Dean of Arts and Sciences Karl Kunkel said the collection held special meaning for the university.

“This is more than a collection of art, it is a reflection of the incredible artistic passion shared by Dr. William J. and Norma Reals,” Kunkel said.

©2014 Pittsburg State University