Dr. Eugene Merlin "Gene" Bont CAVENDISH — Dr. Gene Bont, who died April 13, 2019, in his home, was born to John Bont and Petranella "Nellie" Bont in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Mother’s Day 1930. He was the second of four children. He worked from the time he was nine years old – first, delivering flowers and then, from age 11, for Bont & Sons, his father and grandfather’s roofing company. Dr. Bont married the love of his life, Phyllis Flint, in 1951. After a friendship that began at just 4 years old and grew steadily through elementary and Ottawa Hills High School, they began the love story to end all love stories while Dr. Bont was a student at Hope College in Holland, Michigan – and a member of the Arcadians Fraternity – where he graduated in 1952. He graduated from medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, in 1956. He completed his Residency at Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington in 1957. Dr. and Mrs. Bont found the place they would call “Home” in July of 1957 after the townspeople of Cavendish, without a local physician, created the Black River Health Center (BRHC). Dr. Bont practiced medicine with Dr. Don Schultz there for several years. In 1970, still feeling the lack of adequate medical coverage for their rural area and having read about a new Physician Assistant (PA) program at Duke University, Dr. Bont agreed to take on two students from the third class of its kind. His two PAs were the very first PAs in the nation to work in clinical practice. Dr. Bont, Mrs. Bont – who had become a nurse during her husband’s medical school career – along with others, worked with the VT Medical Society, the VT State Legislature and Springfield Hospital to design a program that would allow PAs to work at an unprecedented level of independence in a community setting and to get the Vermont Physician Assistant Practice Act, and a corresponding Act for Nurse Practitioners (NPs), created and passed. Using the second Act of the two, Mrs. Bont later joined Dr. Bont’s medical practice as one of the first NPs in the state of Vermont. Dr. Bont became an associate professor at Yale University which drew medical students into the BRHC on their family practice rotation and allowed Dr. Bont to travel around the U.S. explaining how rural physicians could use these two types of providers in their practices. There are now 115,547 Certified PAs and 270,000 licensed NPs who practice in ways designed under Dr. Bont’s leadership. Dr. Bont left rural practice in 1988 and became a professor in the Family Practice Program – and Mrs. Bont, an instructor – at the medical school at State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany. He received several teaching awards from Duke, Yale and Albany over the years, retiring in 2000. The Bonts maintained their house in Cavendish throughout their time in Albany and over the years. it has been a place to call “Home” for them, their seven children, 44 foster children, three adults in need of a safe-haven, and countless people who spent time in the comfort and warmth of the Bont Family. Dr. Bont was also passionate about the children of his community and their education. He was on the school boards for Duttonsville Grade School, then Cavendish Elementary and Green Mountain Union High schools. He was dedicated to the creation of Union 35 and Green Mountain Union High School. Later, as part of his Master Gardener Program, Dr. Bont helped create gardens at Cavendish Elementary School and played an active role in imagining and creating the Outdoor Classrooms. He also joined the sixth graders on their field trips to Camp Keewaydin. He was a passionate music lover, singer, sailor, fisherman, birder, stamp enthusiast, gardener, runner and an enthusiastic patron of the arts. He enjoyed 15 years as a member of the choir at Grace Congregational United Church of Christ in Rutland. Dr. Bont is survived by his adoring wife, Phyllis Flint Bont, and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Sharon Jackson, of San Antonio, TX; Carole Bont, Donald, Jaime and Juliana LoCascio, of Woodsville, NH; Mary Stillwell, of Sunapee, NH; Robert, Angie, Natalie and Joseph Stillwell, of Washington, DC; Rachel Stillwell, of Randolph; Leonard Stillwell, of Wallingford; Geno, Tina and Daniel Bont, of Worcester, MA; Matthew, Meagan and Ryan Bont, of Clinton, MA; Amanda Bont, of Phoenix, AZ; Joshua Bont, of Gardner, MA; Beth and Bruce LaBarge, of Springfield; Jonathan LaBarge, of Roanoke, VA; Laura DeRoo, Arianna LaBarge, Saidy DeRoo, Riley DeRoo and Iris Summers, of Coldwater, OH; Erik deNeergaard and Terri Beiter, of Hollis, NH; Rick, Lane and Gracie Wyman, of Rutland; Scott, Elizabeth and Aaron Bennett, of Sunapee, NH; and Christy Dickinson-Davis, Chris, Phoenix and Raven Davis, of Colorado Springs, CO. Also surviving are a sister, Patricia and Jaye Miller, of Yuma, AZ; sister-in-law, Barbara Flint Liefbroer, of Grand Rapids, MI; and several nieces and nephews. Dr. Bont was predeceased by his daughters Margaret Bont, Robin Lee Crowell/Kendall/Scannell; and his son, Philip Avenango. Memorial services will be held at the Grace Congregational United Church of Christ in Rutland on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 2 p.m. Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, May 12, 2019, at 2 p.m. in the Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Proctorsville. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Gene Bont Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 22, Cavendish, VT 05142 to pay for field trips and other enhancing educational experiences for Cavendish Elementary School children. Arrangements are under the direction of the Tossing Funeral Home.