Dr. Robert “Bob” and Rochelle Stone have given much to the Akron community, and the roots of their spirit of giving can be traced to their families, their faith and their early days in west Akron.
In the beginning
Dr. Stone and Rochelle (nee Dienoff) first became acquainted as teens at the Jewish Community Center on Balch Street.
They attended different elementary schools but met up at Buchtel High, where he played football and was president of the National Honor Society. Rochelle was equally active on the debate team and in other school activities.
They developed a love for learning and set their sights on college and beyond. Dr. Stone graduated from Buchtel in 1954 and Rochelle a year later in 1955.
The high school sweethearts dated for 10 years before marrying and beginning their family. Rochelle graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in education while Dr. Stone went to Miami University (Ohio) and then completed medical school at The Ohio State University.
Akron Children’s guiding light
After a pediatric residency at Akron Children’s Hospital and a two-year stint working as a pediatrician at a U.S. Naval Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. Stone continued his training, completing a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He then began his career as a pediatrician, caring for multiple generations of families during his 42-year tenure at Pediatrics of Akron.
Throughout the years, he assumed numerous roles at Akron Children’s, including director of gastroenterology and the cystic fibrosis clinic; chairman of the department of pediatrics; and chief of the medical staff.
He is currently the associate chair for community affairs in the department of pediatrics and has had a seat on the hospital’s Board of Directors since 1982.
He’s especially proud of his work in educating medical students and residents. In 2006, he initiated Akron Children’s Summer Pediatric Research Scholars, a program for college students interested in healthcare careers.
Dr. Stone has been instrumental in helping the hospital grow from humble beginnings to a nationally-ranked children’s hospital with programs and services in more than 80 locations.
“During the course of my career in pediatric medicine, we have made incredible strides in caring for children, especially those with chronic illnesses,” said Dr. Stone. “Take cystic fibrosis. When I begin working with Dr. Lew Walker, our CF clinic had 20-plus patients with a mean survival of 8 years. Today, the hospital cares for 200-plus CF patients who have a mean survival of 38.5 years, with some patients thriving into their 40s and 50s.”
In recognition of his work for children and CF patients, his brother, Donald, and sister-in-law, Marcia, donated $300,000 to the hospital in 1999 to establish the Robert T. Stone MD Respiratory Center.
In 2002, Dr. Stone was named “Pediatrician of the Year” by the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Mobilizing meals and more
While her husband was busy at the hospital or answering 3 a.m. patient calls, Rochelle was leaving her own mark on the community.
She has served on the Summit County United Way’s Board of Trustees and has been a member of Akron Children’s Women’s Board since 1988, serving as president, chair of the legislative/advocacy committee, a gift shop volunteer and chair of the hospital’s annual Charity Ball.
Her current involvement is through the hospital’s division of pediatric psychiatry and psychology.
She makes follow-up calls to families who have sought out mental health services through the hospital’s Pediatric Intake Response Center (PIRC), making sure all is well and the families are still getting the services they need.
In the late 1960s, she and other women on the Summit County Medical Society’s Women’s Auxiliary identified a community need. Hospitals were reducing lengths of stay and patients were often going home with little or no support.
What if someone could check in on them at home and bring them a meal or two?
This idea led Rochelle and the other women to create Mobile Meals in 1971. Today it provides 3,500 meals every day to elderly and shut-in residents of Summit, Portage and parts of Medina, Wayne and Cuyahoga counties.
Rochelle remains active with Mobile Meals, as a board member and route organizer.
Dr. Stone and Rochelle are active members of the Beth El Congregation and Akron’s Jewish community. He has served on the board of directors of the Akron Jewish Federation and Beth El and was president of the Jewish Family Service.
Rochelle was the first woman president of Beth El Congregation and has served as president of Hadassah the Beth El Sisterhood.
Both have been active fundraisers for the Annual Jewish Welfare Fund Campaign and have made several medical, community and interfaith mission trips to Israel.
Co-workers and colleagues use phrases like these to describe Dr. Stone and Rochelle: “tireless advocates for children and their families,” “always striving for what is right,” and “caring, visionary and compassionate community leaders.”
They are as respected for their integrity and devotion to faith and family as they are for their vast individual and joint accomplishments.