Robert “Bob” Bone fought five-year battle with cancer
Long-time Farmington barber Robert “Bob” Bone, 81, died Friday at Parkland Medical Center following a five-year battle with cancer.
Born May 20, 1942, in the city of Ironton, Bone spent his childhood years in Old Mines, where he attended St. Joachim School. After graduating from a St. Louis barber college, Bone began cutting hair in 1961 at a shop next to Dugal’s grocery store and adjacent to where his barber shop later relocated.
At that time, Farmington had 3,800 residents served by 28 barbers, most of whom wore black pants, white shirts and red bowties. That was back in the day when many customers came in weekly for a haircut and shave.
The building the barber shop was in caught fire, and the shop was destroyed. The decision was made to remodel and move into the pool hall next door. The barber shop where Bone began a more-than-60-year career cutting hair still stands on Columbia Street.
Well-known in the community, Bone was the source of all the latest news and was known for doing his fair share of mentoring and matchmaking through the years. He relished being the town barber and working full-time at his barber shop. He couldn’t imagine doing anything else, and the town loved the styles he created.
“I’m proud of the haircuts I created for my customers over the years,” said Bone in an earlier interview with the Daily Journal. “When people around town would ask someone, ‘Who cut your hair?’ They knew before they even answered it that it was a Bob Bone haircut.”
After he sold his shop in 2005, Bone continued to cut hair by appointment only in a small cubicle in the shop adorned with memorabilia of a life spent following local and national sports, raising beagles and hunting, and gathering and disseminating the local happenings as all good barbers are expected to do — he cut hair and gathered news with equal precision.
The barber shop was always a place where people could relax and discuss the events of the day, and Bone was always known for being on top of whatever was going on in government at the time — big and small. He was always interested in sports and closely followed Farmington High School’s and Mineral Area College’s teams.
In addition to his love for barbering and baseball, Bone had a strong passion for the outdoors. He manicured his lawn with the same precision and care he brought to his barbering. Bob was frequently seen on his riding mower, trimming not only his yard but also his neighbors.
He was active in the Jaycees and was a lifetime member of both the Knights of Columbus and the Farmington Elks Lodge. Bone and his wife, Pat, were named Mr. and Mrs. Country Days in 1992. A member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Farmington, Bone was known for seeing the good in everyone. He had an unwavering faith in others and the ability to embrace life.
In 2018, Bone’s world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 76. Admittedly, he had put off getting a colonoscopy, which he deeply regrets. When his symptoms first started, which included unexplained vomiting and an upset stomach that continued for several weeks, he knew he needed a colonoscopy.
In a story published last year in the Daily Journal, Bone said, “One of my only regrets is that I put off getting a colonoscopy. I now tell everyone I meet to be sure to get one. Two of my sisters were previously diagnosed with colon cancer, so it was always in the back of my mind — in my case, I just waited too long. I finally had my colonoscopy, thanks to Dr. Brian Gallagher, a BJC Medical Group surgeon at Parkland Health Center.”
Unfortunately, Bone’s suspicion was accurate — his colonoscopy indicated that he had stage II colon cancer. Dr. Gallagher then referred Bone to Dr. Steven Hunt, a Washington University colorectal surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, who performed a colon resection and followed with surveillance afterward. Three years later, Bone learned that his colon cancer had metastasized extensively to his liver. In other words, the cancer had spread.
“Back in December 2021, I was told I only had one to three months to live,” said Bone. “But I was determined to keep fighting, and so I met with what would become my oncology team — led by Dr. Paul Mehan, a BJC Medical Group hematologist PHC – who recommended chemotherapy and a targeted drug, which I started immediately.”
Bone added that he knew Dr. Gallagher would take good care of him because he’d been cutting his hair since the surgeon was a little boy.
After Bone was diagnosed with stage II colon cancer, Gallagher referred him to Dr. Steven Hunt, a Washington University colorectal surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Three years later, however, Bone learned that his colon cancer had spread to his liver. Told he only had three months to live, Bone was determined to keep fighting and met with Dr. Paul Mehan, a BJC Medical Group hematologist at Parkland, who recommended that Bone undergo chemotherapy and take a targeted drug.
Bone is survived by his wife Pat of 60 years, their five children, 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, as well as two sisters, numerous nieces, nephews, in-laws, and lifelong friends.
His obituary appears on page A4 of today’s Daily Journal.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.