March 13, 2024

Robert C. Bone, VUSM graduate and founder of Lebanon hospital, dies at 87

Robert C. Bone, MD, who worked to found University Hospital in Lebanon, Tennessee, now Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, died March 11. He was 87.

file photo by Daniel Dubois

Dr. Bone grew up in Lebanon and had strong ties to Vanderbilt. He graduated from Vanderbilt University, went on to graduate from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1962, served as a pediatrics resident, completed a surgical oncology fellowship, and, later in his career, returned for an executive MBA from Owen Graduate School.

He also served an internship at Stanford Hospital in San Francisco, completed a general surgical residency at the University of Florida, and spent a year studying nutrition by visiting hospitals in 65 countries under the direction of Vanderbilt nutrition pioneer William Darby, PhD.

Dr. Bone practiced medicine for decades and was Lebanon’s first physician certified in two specialties, pediatrics and surgery.

His deep ties to his hometown, combined with his studies and experiences elsewhere, led him to work to establish the 65-bed private, nonprofit University Hospital, which opened in 1979. Vanderbilt University Medical Center acquired the hospital, which now has 245 beds and is known as Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, in 2019.

Dr. Bone served in the U.S. Army Reserve and Tennessee Air National Guard, retiring with the rank of colonel. He also was a member of the Board of Trust of Lebanon’s Cumberland University for 60 years, 20 of those as chair. In 2016, he was recognized by the United Neighborhood Health Services for the role he played in helping bring government funded health care centers to several low income, underserved areas in Middle Tennessee.

He is survived by his wife, Connie Lape Bone; son, Robert Carver Bone II; daughter, Bonnie Lesley (Kelly) Ramage; stepdaughters, Ann Choomack and Kate Choomack; three grandchildren; and numerous other relatives and close friends.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 16, at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 304 West Main Street, Lebanon. Interment with military honors will be in Cedar Grove Cemetery.  Visitation with the family will be Friday, March 15, 1-7 p.m. at Ligon & Bobo Funeral Home and Saturday one hour prior to the service at the church.