The Lebanon Breakfast Rotary Club honored the late Gordon Bone with its 2019 Col. Bernie Bass Community Service Award during its meeting last week.
The club created the award in 2011 to honor Bass, a longtime Rotarian, and his commitment to the country and community. The award is presented to those in the community who have also focused much of their life to the service of others.
Bone grew up in Lebanon with his brothers Robert and Stratton, and attended Lebanon High School and Cumberland College before he attended the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the University of Virginia’s Consumer Banking School.
He entered banking in 1963 when he accepted a job at Third National Bank in Nashville, where he worked for 16 years and became vice president. He also served on the board of directors with First Bank and Trust in Mt. Juliet, Pinnacle Financial Partners and Mid-America Bankshares.
Bone was the first hospital administrator of the former University Medical Center (now Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital) for six years. He was also a partner in Horizon Concrete, Horizon Construction and Development Co., Total Health Care Systems, as well as his farming with Bone and Bone.
He was elected to the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. board of directors and served as chairman from 1992-2015.
Middle Tennessee Electric President Chris Jones spoke to the club about his relationship with Bone, who he described as a “friend, mentor, adviser and father figure.”
He said it was fitting to honor Bone with an award dedicated to Bass because they shared many similarities, noting they were both veterans, Cumberland University graduates and First Presbyterian Church members in Lebanon.
“They were both renowned for being involved in community and charitable organizations and activities. Certainly, we all know that. I saw that. I felt that in regard to Gordon. No question about it,” Jones said.
Jones said one of Bone’s bigger contributions to the community during his time at Middle Tennessee Electric was the SharingChange program.
Customers who participate in the program round up their bill each month, with the proceeds going to nonprofit and charitable organizations in the community. The company recently designated the scholarship program through the SharingChange initiative as the SharingChange Gordon Bone Scholarship program.
“(SharingChange) would not exist were it not for Gordon Bone. He was the one who championed, from the start, the formation of that foundation more than 12 years ago,” Jones said. “Because of his leadership and perseverance to get that done, that program has given back over the past several years more than $10 million to community colleges and charities in our service territory.”
Bone’s wife, Pat Bone, accepted the award on her late husband’s behalf, alongside several other family members, including their children, Suanne and Hal.
She said there were definitely similarities between her husband and Bass, including their love for their country, families and communities, while asking for little in return.
“We thank you for this honor, and it will certainly be cherished for a lifetime,” she said.