Good Samaritan celebrates volunteer

TUPELO – The Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Free Clinic celebrated its 18th anniversary by remembering the gifts of a longtime volunteer.
Retired Tupelo businessman Ralph Kneisly volunteered Tuesday afternoons for nine years, running errands and helping with office work before his death in August 2009 at the age of 95. His fellow volunteers said he had an amazing knack for locating lost files.
“At 90-plus, he was so young at heart,” said LouAnn McCarty, who volunteered with him.
In addition to his time, Kneisly left a generous financial gift to the clinic, which serves working Lee County residents who cannot afford health insurance.
“He gave of his money, but he also gave of his time and his talent,” said Cindy Sparks, clinic executive director.
A plaque will hang in the office commemorating Ralph Kneisly and his late first wife, Marietta, whose love of volunteering at North Mississippi Medical Center inspired him to do the same, Sparks said.
“He loved to work Tuesday afternoons,” his widow, Wilma Kneisly, who is also a clinic volunteer, said during the celebration with other volunteers. “He loved all of you.”
Kneisly and his fellow volunteers are the engine that makes the Good Samaritan clinic run. The clinic, which has only four full-time employees, draws on a group of 100 health care professionals and about 70 lay volunteers to take care of patients during five different clinics held throughout the week.
“Without them, the clinic could not exist,” Sparks said.
In the 18 years since Dr. Antone Tannehill and First Presbyterian Church created a special project to help the working uninsured in Lee County, the clinic has seen 9,200 patients at nearly 53,000 visits.
“Our clinic serves a twofold purpose: We make sure the eligible patients get the health care they need,” Sparks said. “And it keeps people in the work force here in Lee County.”
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal