Dr. Frank G. Nifong
1867 – 1955
Physician, Surgeon and Philanthropist
Frank Gafney Nifong was born on January 19, 1867. He grew up in Madison County, Missouri and in 1887 enrolled in the Missouri Medical College in St. Louis. After graduating with his medical degree in 1889, Nifong began his career working as surgeon in St. Louis. In 1900 he married Lavinia Lenoir, an affluent young belle from Columbia. They lived in St. Louis until 1905 when they moved to Columbia and into her parents’ home at ‘Maplewood’ Nifong joined the MU faculty as a clinical surgeon where he taught operative techniques and specialized in orthopedic procedures. He would also work as a private practitioner over the years in downtown Columbia.
Nifong worked with MU’s Dr. A.W. McAlester on the development of the MU School of Medicine and was instrumental in creating a new Department of Health Education for Stephens College. Nifong also long advocated the establishment of a county hospital, and in January, 1919, after a new state law made it possible, a bond election was set to raise funds. After Dr. Nifong and others produced a vigorous campaign, voters approved a $100,000 bond to build their first county hospital. When the new Boone County Hospital opened on December 10, 1921, Dr. Nifong was its first Medical Chief of Staff. The Nifongs later donated $100,000 to help fund needed improvements and an addition to the hospital. A newly completed wing was opened in 1954 and named the Frank G. Nifong Wing.
Nifong died in 1955, and Lavinia Lenoir Nifong continued his mission by endowing the Christian Benevolent Association with the Lenoir-Nifong estate and creating the Lenoir Retirement Center. It was the Nifongs desire to establish a facility that offered professional nursing care and supported convalescence for older adults. Later, the city of Columbia purchased 60 acres of the Lenoir-Nifong farm site which held the 1877 Maplewood house and named it the Frank G. Nifong Memorial Park in honor of the doctor and his service to the community. Dr. Nifong’s body of work and his extraordinary philanthropy exemplifies a deep commitment and a life-long dedication to his profession and to his community.