Ernst Chester Bone, M.D., of Jacksonville, died Wednesday evening, March 15, 2017, at his residence in Jacksonville.
He was born March 3, 1915, to Gratia Hope (Hyde) Bone and Chester David Bone in a farm home one-half mile south of Prairie City.
Dr. Bone is survived by his wife, Louise K. Bone; and three sons, Judge J. David (Patricia) Bone of Jacksonville, attorney/developer Stephen Kitts (Patricia) Bone of Huntington Beach, California, and insurance executive Timothy Robert Bone of Jacksonville, Florida; and two stepdaughters, philanthropy consultant Jenny Norris (Scott) Peterson of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Kathryn Norris (Christopher) Kirt of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Mary Elizabeth Bone, who died in infancy; two brothers, Maurice and James; first wife Eileen Kitts Bone; close first cousin Gratia Hall Coultas; and his uncle, the Rev. John Hyde, a highly-regarded missionary known as Praying Hyde of India.
He was deeply loved and admired by family members, friends, and colleagues. Dr. Bone devoted himself to service to others, stemming from his Christian faith and his sincere love of humanity. People immediately sensed his caring and compassion, his commitment to community and his profession, and his desire to leave the world a better place. He loved to sing, to tell jokes and stories, and to bring a smile to everyone's face. Because of his warmth, wit, and flair for entertainment, he often was called upon to be an emcee. When he reached the age of 100, he was invited to read "The Night Before Christmas" at a local fundraising event for the DAR, which due to his poor eyesight yet strong mind he recited from memory with great feeling, bringing many in the audience to tears.
Dr. Bone received his primary and secondary education in the Prairie City School System. He graduated from Illinois College in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Dr. Bone taught chemistry and physics at Petersburg Harris High School for two years and then returned to Jacksonville as director of admissions at Illinois College. During that time, he earned his Master of Arts for Education from the University of Illinois.
A former professor remarked to him that with his education in the sciences, he would be much better suited as a doctor than as an admissions director, so in 1942 he enrolled in medical school. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Medicine degree in 1944 and his M.D. degree in 1946 from the University of Illinois School of Medicine while serving as a volunteer in the United States Navy V12 Program during World War II. He later served as a naval physician during the Korean Conflict while stationed in Bermuda.
He completed post-graduate training at the Illinois Research and Education Hospital, connected with the University of Illinois. He returned to Jacksonville and established his practice of clinical medicine and surgery on West State Street. In 1955, Dr. Bone and his colleague, Dr. Harvey Scott, opened the Bone-Scott Clinic on West State Street where no one was ever turned away and many appreciated receiving house calls. He also served for many years as medical director of Barton-Stone Nursing Home. In his spare time, he delivered over 4,500 babies.
Dr. Bone retired from clinical practice in 1989 but went on to serve over 25 years as a medical consultant for the State of Illinois Bureau of Disability Determination Services. He worked part-time until the age of 100. In addition, he served as medical consultant for the Illinois Department of Public Aid and as associate clinical professor for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
Dr. Bone was among a group of family physicians who founded the American Board of Family Practice (ABFP). He served as an officer for the ABFP's national board and represented family medicine on the American Board of Medical Specialties. Multiple times he was president of the Morgan-Scott Medical Society, and was a member of the Illinois Medical Society, and the Illinois and American Academy of Physicians. He served as president of the Illinois State Academy of Family Practice and the American Academy of Family Practice. Good Housekeeping named him one of the nation's top 10 physicians. He received the Illinois State Family Practitioner of the Year Award and was recognized in the National Top Five Family Practitioners of the Year in 1980.
Throughout his life, Dr. Bone was passionate about education. He served for nine years on the Jacksonville School District 117 Board of Directors and for over 25 years on the MacMurray College Board of Trustees. He served as president of the Illinois College Alumni Association and for 10 years as alumni representative on the Illinois College Board of Trustees. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Illinois College in 1989 and an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from MacMurray College in 1990. As team physician, Dr. Bone was elected to the Illinois College and MacMurray College athletic halls of fame.
Dr. Bone had a lifelong interest in farming and was a lifetime member of the American Angus Association. As a young man he was involved in 4H and in 1968 was named Illinois State 4H Alumnus of the Year. Dr. Bone received the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary Club. He was also named Jacksonville's Citizen of the Year and was inducted into the City of Jacksonville Hall of Fame.
He served multiple terms as an elder of State Street Presbyterian and First Presbyterian Churches in Jacksonville, and was a member of The Literary Union men's literary society. He enjoyed the theatre and performed for decades in the Passavant Hospital Follies, and several Ken Bradbury productions, including "The Shadow of Giants." Dr. Bone served as president of the Salvation Army board of directors and, along with Mrs. Louise Bone, was co-chair of the Prairieland United Way campaign.
The Golden Rule was central to his life, and his devotion to others brought him fulfillment and joy.
A funeral service will be held 10:30 a.m. Monday at First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville. The family will meet friends from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Williamson Funeral Home. Private interment will be in Diamond Grove Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to Illinois College, MacMurray College, First Presbyterian Church, or Passavant Area Hospital. Condolences may be left online at airsman-hires.com.