OBITUARY: Dr. Robert Carver Bone


Dr. Robert Carver Bone, the first of three sons, was born April 1, 1936, to Sam Stratton Bone and Margaret Talley Bone. Robert grew up in Lebanon, where he attended McClain School and Lebanon High School, graduating as Valedictorian in 1954. He attended Vanderbilt University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude. Following his undergraduate work, he earned his medical degree in 1962 from Vanderbilt School of Medicine. He later received his MBA from Vanderbilt Owen School of Business in 1985.

Upon graduating medical school, he chose to take a year off before deciding on a specialty and completing a residency. And what a year that was! He accepted an aunt’s invitation to accompany her on a trip around the world. Not only did he visit and see places others dream about, but he also used the opportunity to visit with leading medical practitioners at nutritional centers in other nations, learning much that would help him throughout his medical practice.

In 1963, he began an internship at “Old” Stanford Hospital in San Francisco. Upon completion of his internship, he returned to Lebanon and joined the practice of his longtime friend and mentor, Dr. Charles T. Lowe. This was a practice of not only pediatrics, but other areas of general medicine and obstetrics. After this experience, he returned to Vanderbilt to complete a residency in pediatrics.

During the time spent with Dr. Lowe, the idea of Lebanon needing a new hospital was born. He recalled Dr. Lowe saying, “Son, pediatricians don’t build hospitals, surgeons do.” So off he went to the University of Florida to complete a residency in general surgery. It was there that he rekindled a friendship with his childhood friend, Dr. Walter Smithwick, convincing him to join in this new Lebanon hospital venture. Returning home and becoming Lebanon’s first physician certified in two specialties, he gathered the best team of physicians and business leaders from the community and the journey began.

After several years of hard work, University Medical Center, a 65-bed, private, nonprofit hospital, opened its doors on April 1, 1979. Over the years, this hospital has played a vital role in not only offering quality healthcare but providing thousands of jobs to residents of Wilson and surrounding counties. Today this hospital is the 245-bed Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital and there wasn’t a happier man anywhere around when this affiliation with his alma mater came to fruition.

Known by his colleagues and patients for his genteel manners, kindness, professionalism and great bedside manner, Dr. Bone received many awards and recognitions over the years. Two of the most prestigious include being named a 2014 recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s Healthcare Hero Award in the area of Community Leader. In 2016, he was recognized by the United Neighborhood Health Services for the role he played in helping bring government funded healthcare centers to several low income, underserved areas in middle Tennessee.

Robert was a lifelong member of Lebanon’s First Presbyterian Church, having served over the years as both deacon and elder.

He served his country over 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and Tennessee Air National Guard, retiring with the rank of Colonel.

His ties and devotion to Cumberland University were unsurpassed, having been a member of the Board of Trust for 60 years, twenty of these years as Chairman of the Board and subsequently as Chairman Emeritus. With Jeanette Rudy, he co-founded the Bachelor of Science Nursing program, one of the best in the state.

In keeping with the Bone family tradition, since 1964, Robert was an incredibly faithful member of both Lebanon Rotary clubs, the original Noon Club and later the Breakfast Club. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and in 2017 was the recipient of the Bernie Bass Community Service Award presented by the Breakfast Club.

Regardless of the many accomplishments in the medical field, academia and civic areas, Robert’s greatest area of pride and devotion was to his family.

He is survived by his wife of over 30 years, Connie Lape Bone; son, Robert Carver Bone II; daughter, Bonnie Lesley (Kelly) Ramage; step-daughters, Ann Choomack and Kate Choomack; grandchildren, Ava Bone, Wyatt Ramage and Nick Ramage; brother, Sam Stratton (Marty) Bone; sister-in-law, Patricia Bone; niece, Suanne Bone; nephews, Hal (Tracy) Bone and Doug (Laura) Bone; and several great nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents Sam Stratton Bone, Sr. and Margaret Talley Bone and his brother Harold Gordon Bone.

Thank you to all of the physicians, nurses and caregivers who attended to Robert at the end of his life.

In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Dr. Bone’s memory by supporting the Robert C. Bone Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship supports nursing at the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions at Cumberland University. Visit and select the designation Dr. Robert Carver Bone Endowed Scholarship.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 16, 2024, at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 304 West Main Street, Lebanon, with Rev. Gary DeLong and Rev. Guy Griffith officiating. Interment with military honors will be in Cedar Grove Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be Friday 1-7 p.m. at Ligon & Bobo Funeral Home and Saturday one hour prior to the service at the church.

Active Pallbearers: Robert Carver Bone II, Wyatt Ramage, Doug Bone, Hal Bone, Mitchell Bone and Paine Bone.

Honorary Pallbearers: Stratton and Marty Bone, Nick Ramage, Ava Bone, Patricia Bone, Suanne Bone, Tracy Bone, W.P. Bone, Tom Keiffer, Pam Tomlinson, Cumberland University Board of Trust, Lebanon Noon Rotary Club and Lebanon Breakfast Rotary Club.

LIGON & BOBO FUNERAL HOME in charge of arrangements (615) 444-2142


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  1. What a special man, when I was a boy he ran the summer program behind McClain school, showed us movies on the tennis court, what wonderful memories I have of Dr Bone & his family, my mother fixed Mrs Bone hair for many years! I was good friends with Gordon, times gone by! RIP Dr Bone


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