Cleveland Clinic reaches 100th anniversary with help of Crile and Lower

| October 29, 2021


The Cleveland Clinic is celebrating its 100th anniversary and two of its founders have roots right here in Coshocton County.

A sign in Chili designates it as the hometown of Dr. George W. Crile and Dr. William E. Lower. Crile was born on Nov. 11, 1864 and Lower was born May 6, 1867.

Dr. George Crile and Dr. Frank Bunts were practing in Cleveland and because of such rapid growth in this partnership, Dr. William Lower was asked to join them in 1892. Dr. Crile and Dr. Lower were cousins; both attending district schools and had been raised on farms in the Chili area.

In 1898, Crile and Lower pioneered a method of performing a double leg amputation using a spinal anesthetic by experimenting on frogs. Lower performed the first actual operation in 1898 and it was deemed a success.

During the Spanish-American War Crile and Bunts both served as surgeons, leaving Lower alone with the office practice. After they came home Dr. Lower volunteered to help with the Boxer Rebellion in China, entering the army as a first lieutenant. By the time he reached China the rebellion was over; however, he received papers to serve as surgeon to the 9th U.S. Cavalry in the Philippines, 1900-1901.

In 1901, Bunts, Crile and Lower were reunited in practice, where they remained until they were separated again by World War I. Dr. Lower was already well known nationally as a urologic surgeon.

When World War I began, Crile, Bunts and Lower were there. Dr. Crile organized the Lakeside Unit know as Base Hospital No. 4 in France. Dr. Crile advanced to brigadier general.

Bunts and Crile returned to Cleveland early in 1919 and were once again united with Lower and began to rebuild their practice. Soon they were busy again and needed assistance. Dr. John Phillips joined the team. Now they were four and in time would become known as the Big Four.

Inspired by the cooperative benefits to their patients, money was borrowed and in 1921 and the Cleveland Clinic was founded. This was the mission statement, “The mission of the Cleveland Clinic is to provide compassionate health care of the highest quality in a setting of education and research.”

Crile was elected the first president, Bunts was vice president, Lower treasurer and Phillips, secretary. The first meeting of the incorporators was held on Feb. 21, 1921, and these doctors were designated founders.

Dr. William Lower was a physician for 56 years. He died June 17, 1948 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Before his death Dr. Lower established two trust funds for the Coshocton Public Library. Dr. Crile retired in 1941 and died on Jan. 7, 1943. He is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

A timeline of the Cleveland Clinic’s complete history can be found online at According to the website, the Cleveland Clinic now has more than 200 locations and 65,000 caregivers worldwide.

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Category: People & Places

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