Harry S Jonas, Jr., M.D.

Harry S Jonas, Jr., M.D., 96, obstetrician/gynecologist and medical educator, whose career in medicine was interwoven with a life-long interest in government and community service, passed away on December 24th, 2022, surrounded by family.

Dr. Jonas was born December 3, 1926 in Kirksville, Missouri to Harry S Jonas, Sr. and Sarah Laird Jonas. After graduating from high school he served in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman during World War II. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, earning both his Bachelors and M.D. degrees and where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He married his childhood sweetheart, Connie Kirby, in 1949 and they enjoyed sixty-one years of happy marriage.

After completing his residency training at St. Luke’s and Barnes Hospitals in St. Louis in 1956, he began private practice of obstetrics and gynecology in Independence, Missouri. He and Connie soon became leaders in the effort to pass a home rule charter and help reform the Independence city government. He was elected Independence city councilman, serving from 1962 to 1966.

Dr. Jonas once estimated that he delivered 7,000 babies during his nineteen years of practice, but still found time to teach resident physicians at what was then called Kansas City General Hospital No. 2 before it merged with KC General Hospital No. 1 (Truman Medical Center).

Kansas City General Hospitals No. 1 and 2 were segregated until 1957. Dr. Jonas at great personal peril, played a vital role in desegregating the two facilities, thus remarkably improving the health care for the area’s minority population.

He held numerous positions of leadership in local and regional sections of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, capping his involvement as national President of the College in 1986-87.

Dr. Jonas also had leadership roles in many civic organizations, including Rotary International, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Community Welfare League, Planning and Zoning Board, and Planned Parenthood. In 1970 Jackson County voters approved a new charter, creating a 15-member county legislature to be elected in 1972 when Dr. Jonas was elected 4th District legislator. He was then chosen as the first Chairman of the inaugural legislature, serving a four-year term. Following the death of President Harry S. Truman, and at the request of First Lady Bess Truman, he chaired the committee to raise funds to erect the statue of President Truman that has stood on the Independence Square since it was dedicated by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

In 1975 as the new UMKC School of Medicine was getting under way, Dr. Jonas left private practice to chair the OB/GYN department at the school, which utilized the newly opened Truman Medical Center as its teaching hospital. In 1978 he was appointed Dean of the school and remained in that position for another decade.

Nearing the end of his deanship term, Dr. Jonas accepted the position of Vice-President, Undergraduate Medical Education with the American Medical Association in Chicago, with responsibility for accrediting the nation’s medical schools. He traveled extensively in his capacity as Secretary for the Liaison Committee of Medical Education, visiting every one of the 126 medical schools in the U.S. and many in Canada. He visited China four times, most of Europe, and served as a The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) consultant to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

After retiring from the A.M.A. in 2000 he returned with his wife Connie to the Kansas City area and became a special consultant to the Dean at the UMKC School of Medicine. He was also a founding partner of DJW & Associates, a consulting firm helping medical schools prepare for accreditation, as well as advising those seeking to establish new medical schools. He was granted positions of Faculty Emeritus and Dean Emeritus at UMKC.

In 2002 Attorney General Jay Nixon asked Dr. Jonas to serve on the board of the newly organized Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (now known as Health Forward Foundation), whose mission is to aid the medically underserved in the Kansas City area. He chaired the group for two years and served another three years on the board. Throughout his life Dr. Jonas was a passionate supporter of women’s health.

He took great delight in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, enjoying their frequent visits to his home.

Dr. Jonas was predeceased by his beloved and dedicated wife Connie. He is survived by his sister Marietta Jonas Jayne of Kirksville Missouri, sons Harry (Hank) Jonas III (Beverly) of Painted Post, New York, and William Reed Jonas (Maria) of Independence, and daughter Sarah Jonas Dau (Mark) of Lee’s Summit, grandsons Harrison Jonas, Daniel Jonas (Meghan), and Andrew Dau, granddaughters Kristen Jonas Hazelrigg (Andy), Becca Jonas and Katie Dau, great-granddaughters Charlotte Jonas and Piper Hazelrigg, and great-grandson William Jonas.

A special tribute to Dr. Jonas will be held on Friday, February 10 at 11 am at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Truman Library Institute or Ascend Hospice, Lee’s Summit.

I want to be thoroughly
used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.
I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch
which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly
as possible before handing it on for future generations.
George Bernard Shaw


  1. Nancy Deal Wion on January 6, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    Thinking of you and love to all

  2. Ruth Bocchino on January 6, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    What an amazing life! I’m so sorry for your loss. Bill, I can see you in his picture. Sincere condolences to you and your family. Bocchino’s

  3. Larry Watts, MD on January 6, 2023 at 4:35 pm

    Dr. Jonas was my mother’s obstetrician and delivered my little sister in Independence. My mother adored him. He was a big reason I became an OB/GYN and later in my career became a hospital administrator. Reading his obituary confirmed to me, he was not only a great man but lived a great life. Know that his memory will live on within the many he impacted, during his time on Earth.

  4. Stuart Munro, MD on January 6, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    Harry had a genuine concern for the future physicians of America, which I had the privilige of observing first hand in his role as Dean of the School of Medicine, as a leader of the review process of medical schools at the AMA in Chicago, back home in Kansas CIty as special support to the Dean’s Office, and even at his beloved home on Cape Cod. None fo us can truly articulate the many influences that he had on our careers. I am simply grateful to have known Harry and to have felt his influence.

  5. Lisa Wilson on January 6, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    Great man that will be truly missed.

  6. the Fains on January 7, 2023 at 9:24 am

    Maria and bill so sorry for your loss

  7. the Fains on January 7, 2023 at 9:25 am

    so sorry for our loss

  8. Maureen Lawlor on January 8, 2023 at 9:47 am

    We called him “Dr J” and I will never forget how he’d sing along with the stereo that great booming voice of his, hilariously inventing new lyrics when he couldn’t recall the real ones. Quite a guy. We were fortunate to have known him.

  9. Holt McChord on January 8, 2023 at 10:29 am

    Harry lived a full life true to his George Bernard Shaw quote. Peace and love to his family.

  10. Bob Feeney on January 8, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    It is so hard to believe that Doc Jonas has passed. He was a fixture in our time in Chatham since the early 1960s. What a fantastic life he had! Our sympathies to the entire Jonas family.

    Bob & Mary Feeney

  11. Laura Doan on January 8, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Dr Jonas
    Was the Dean when I was in medical school. He was compassionate and involved with all the students in that role.
    Then when I had children he also served as a mentor to Hazel Grove Elementary School. My son Quint was fortunate to have him as a third grade mentor.
    He impacted 2 generations directly in my family.
    He had a big heart and beneficial influence on all that were in his life circle
    I am honored to have been in that circle twice

  12. Dori Reiley on January 8, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    I will miss Harry terribly. I enjoyed our “talks” and occasional “dates” to see a show in P’Town or just for dinner. He was a great friend to both Bill and me. Please accept my deepest sympathy on the passing of a wonderful man.
    Dori Reiley, Harding Shores

  13. Mercedes and Robert Blake on January 8, 2023 at 9:43 pm

    We’re sorry we never met your incredible father, Hank. Truly a life well lived and one to be celebrated. Please accept our condolences as you remember him with family and friends.

    Merce and Bob Blake

  14. Eva Chalas (past ACOG president) on January 9, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    Dr. Jonas lived a full life, helping so many patients and educating the next generation of physicians. The impact of his brilliance, dedication and hard work was national, and we are all in his debt. He was a highly respected leader of ACOG, representing its members and ensuring the best possible care for our patients. Deepest condolences and sympathy to the entire Jonas family.

  15. Mark S DeFrancesco on January 10, 2023 at 10:21 am

    Dr. Harry Jonas was a lot of things to a lot of people. He dedicated his life to service to the healthcare system, starting in the ObGyn specialty world, and expanding to medicine in general with his many years leading accreditation of medical education programs. In addition, he was always very involved in his community, not only in civic-minded organizations like Rotary, but serving on commissions and even as an elected city councilman. He was a man for all seasons in so many ways.
    It was my good fortune to also serve as ACOG president, some 29 years after Harry did. We met at the national meeting when I was to be inaugurated, and we’ve been great friends ever since. Each summer since 2015 we’ve been able to meet up on Cape Cod for a wonderful mini-reunion, great dinners and stimulating conversation. He was looking forward to doing the same this summer. Sadly, that won’t be happening, but I will toast his memory each year that I am able to get back to the Cape.
    Harry led a full life and a long life. Today we should be sad for our loss, but at the same time, we should celebrate his life. We are all better off that he was a part of ours.

  16. Maureen and Peter Tarrant on January 10, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    For the past thirty plus years we have been fortunate to live just two doors from the Jonas house in our beachside community of Harding Shores. Our close proximity perfectly lent itself to embrace Harry’s welcoming “drop in” policy.
    As recently as this past July, a visit to Harry guaranteed lively conversation about up to the minute current events, sports, the latest book he was devouring, and always our gratitude for the spectacular sunsets we enjoyed.
    It was a consistent honor to be in the presence of the magnificent man every summer.
    Harry shared a very special relationship with our daughter, Heather, as she successfully made her journey to become an Emergency Room physician. He would beam with pride!
    Our lives, in addition to countless others, have been enriched beyond words through our friendship with Dr. Harry S Jonas Jr.

  17. Mary Ann C O'Herron on January 12, 2023 at 4:33 pm

    Hank & Bev, and Family,

    I am so sorry to learn of your Dad’s earthly passing. Hank, I never met your Dad, but I know you, so he had to be everything that was wonderful and blessed. Gorgeous obituary which I know fills your heart, as well as the hearts of others, with so many beautiful memories, accomplishments, and graces the life of such an authentic man.

  18. Eric Elder on February 2, 2023 at 11:59 am

    Hank … My condolences to you and your family. I never had the privilege of meeting your dad, but based on your tales over the years and his impressive obituary, he was clearly another example of the Greatest Generation. God bless him, and your family.

  19. Lynne and Dave Feeney on February 5, 2023 at 4:33 pm

    The end of an era! Doc Jonas will always be in our hearts! From the Clambake(Doc Jonas cooking steaks!), to the Scorpion sailboats….nothing but fantastic memories!

  20. Nicholas Comninellis on February 6, 2023 at 5:35 pm

    IN 1980, when I return from my first international rotation, as a UMKC medical student, Dr. Jonas invited me to come to his office and share with him the photos of my preceptorship in Honduras. Three years later, when I return from a year at our sister hospital in Shanghai, China, Dr. Jonas again insisted I come and share with him details of that experience. Such encouraging, formative interactions were instrumental in propelling my own career, and the ultimate establishment of the Institute for International Medicine in 2003.

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