A departing Army captain is leaving a gift that will endure long after his time at Fort Leonard Wood.

Capt. Darryl Kothmann, Company C, 554th Engineer Basic Officer Leader Course, with the assistance of his wife, Lindsay, recently finished work on an extensive mural in the Bruce C. Clarke Library children's library. The project has long been a dream of Kim Jones, children's library technician, and the Kothmanns were able to make that dream a reality.

Lindsay, who worked at the library as a technician, mentioned her husband's drawing skills to Jones, who, after viewing some of Darryl's work, knew he would be the perfect person to make the mural a reality.

"(Jones) was impressed with his work, so I asked him if he would be willing to do it and give back to the library," Lindsay said.

Darryl immediately saw the project as an opportunity to serve the Fort Leonard Wood community.

"(Lindsay) asked me and I said I would do it," said Darryl, who is now en route to Fort Hood, Texas.

The library had a long, curved white wall that Jones thought would be the perfect place for artwork.

"I really wanted the children's room to be bright, and the plain white walls were so boring. I felt like our long curved wall was begging for a colorful mural," Jones said.

While planning for the mural, Jones knew she wanted it to have a military tie, since this is a military community.

"(Kim) said she wanted the theme to be different Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines reading to children," Darryl said. "So I kind of took it from there, developed a concept sketch and gave it to her. She liked it, and we went from there."

Jones wanted the wall to be bright and cartoonish, while celebrating reading and the diversity in military communities.

"I wanted kids to come in and say 'I see my dad/mom on the wall,'" Jones said. "It was very important for me that kids see themselves and their Family represented. It was equally important there be a kid with glasses, different skin colors and even a redhead."

The Kothmanns started on the mural in January, working eight-hour days each Friday, while the community services division of the library was closed. They completed the work March 4.

Darryl did most of the outlines and detail work, while Lindsay helped color-in and paint much of it.

"We are really happy to contribute to the community," Darryl said.

Jones said the mural serves as an example of how vital volunteers are to the community.

"I cannot draw a stick figure to save my life," Jones said. "Without Darryl's artistic skills and Lindsay's help painting, this would have never happened. I'm so very pleased that Darryl put so many hours into our library."

Claretta Crawford, library director, is thrilled with the final product as well.

"It definitely brightens and adds color to the room," Crawford said. "I think it also shows how important reading is to children and helps to encourage them to read and have fun while doing it."

As the project unfolded, Crawford said several of the children who participated in the library's weekly story times would visit excited to see how much it had changed.

"We had one little boy that would come in each week and tell someone 'thank you for painting,'" Crawford said.

Crawford said she believes Darryl was just the right person to see this project to completion.

"We have had this on our radar for quite some time, but were having difficulty finding someone who was interested and would volunteer their time to do it. As it turned out, we think the right person stepped up and completed the project in record time," she said.

Jones said anything that excites children and encourages them to read is a great thing for the library. The mural fits the bill, she said.

"Kids absolutely love it," Jones said. "Our community is very lucky to have such a lovely piece of art in our library."

Crawford said community members are welcome to view the art anytime, during regular library hours. Jones said Storytime is the perfect time to bring the children by. "They take place at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday and 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays," she said.

For more information, contact Jones at 573.563.4113.