Ernie J. Chaney, MD

Ernie Joe Chaney, M.D. passed away on May 16, 2024. He was 96. He was born December 28, 1927, in Frontenac, Kansas to Elbert Zenith Johnson and Louise Elizabeth (Richards) Johnson. When he was very young, Elbert and Louise divorced and he was adopted by Louise’s second husband, Tom Chaney.

Ernie was a 1945 graduate of Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Kansas. He served our country in the United States Navy from 1945 through 1947, when he was honorably discharged. In August of 1951, he married his forever soulmate, Margie Lee (Hall) Chaney of Wellington, Kansas. He attended Wichita State University and was accepted into the University of Kansas Medical School after three years of undergraduate studies. Margie worked to support them both while he attended KU medical school in Kansas City, graduating in 1956. After graduation Ernie and Margie moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he interned for a year at Tacoma General Hospital.

In 1957, he and Herb Doubek, M.D., a medical school classmate, were recruited and moved to Belleville, Kansas to start a family medical practice. It was called “Chaney & Doubek, MDs.” The name was alleged to have been decided by the flip of a coin. Ernie and Herb had a genuine family practice: stitching wounds, setting broken bones, counseling patients’ mental health needs, and delivering countless babies in the North Central Kansas area. It was rare for Dr. Chaney to sleep through the night.

In his earliest days as a young country doctor, Ernie made firm commitments to his patients, to medicine, and to medical education.

In the 1960s and 70s, he took his wife and three young boys on medical mission trips to the mountains of Guatemala one summer and then to Honduras a few summers later.

From 1970 to 1983, while practicing medicine in Belleville, Dr. Chaney was a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in both Kansas City and Wichita. He staunchly advocated that family physicians should have a specialty of their own and testified in support of that proposition in Kansas and in Washington, D.C. He served as the President of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians in 1970.

In 1981 he was elected as the President of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the second largest medical organization in the United States. One of his greatest honors was to serve as a representative of all the family physicians of America.

From 1987 to 1990, Dr. Chaney was president of the Family Health Foundation of America, the forerunner of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFP-F). Only a small handful of physicians have ever served as president of both organizations.

In 1983, Ernie and Margie left Belleville and moved to Wichita, Kansas where he became an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita, Kansas. In 1988 he was promoted to Professor. Teaching future family physicians was his passion. From 1983 until his retirement in 1994 he was the program director of the University of Kansas School of Medicine- Wichita Family Practice Residency at Via Christi-St Joseph in Wichita. In May of 1996, he came out of retirement to serve as the interim chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, a post he held until he re-retired in January of 1997.

Dr. Chaney was board certified in family practice by the American Academy of Family Practice and the American Board of Family Practice and he held a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. In 1991, he was awarded the Victor North, M.D., “Outstanding Teacher in the Specialty of Family Medicine” by vote of the residents of the St. Joseph Family Practice Residency. He was a member of many other professional organizations.

Over his career in medicine and academics Dr. Chaney taught at numerous professional state and national meetings and authored many scientific papers in his field.

He was an avid and unreasonable KU sports fan. For years, as a young family doctor in Belleville he was a “KU Ambassador,” which meant that he and the family hosted members of the KU football team when they came through Belleville during summers to attend the annual KU football banquet and try to sell KU season football tickets. To the thrill of the young Chaney boys and many of the youth in Belleville, they hosted such players as Bobby Douglas, John Riggins, David Jaynes, and others.

Ernie was a wonderful and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was optimistic by nature and known for his quick wit and sense of humor. He told friends and family that anything he was able to experience after dancing at his granddaughter’s wedding would be icing on the cake. After that, he danced at his grandson’s wedding, was able to attend basketball, soccer and baseball games of his great-grandson, and soccer games and ballet recitals of his great-granddaughter. He was also present as his grandchildren graduated from college and law school and obtained masters’ degrees. He stressed the importance of education to his children. He was the first in his family to go to college.

Most of all Ernie loved Margie and raising the three boys with her. They travelled to all 50 states when he was the President of the AAFP. They loved attending parties and dances with lifelong friends over the years. In the 80s, Ernie and Margie purchased a second home at Rancho Viejo, Texas to spend more time with their grandchildren, Katie, Stuart, Liz, and Mac Chaney, who they adored. They both loved South Texas, its people, culture, and especially its winters.

The family is grateful for the caregivers of Keep Living at Home (KLAH) for allowing Ernie to remain independent and at home for as long as possible and to the people of Neuvant House for the superb care they provided after he could no longer live independently.

Ernie is survived by his son, Mitchell (Susan) of Ingram, Texas and Lawrence, Kansas; daughter-in-law, Lecia Elliott Chaney (Stuart) of Kingwood, Texas; granddaughter, Katie Czyz (Joe) of Lenexa, Kansas; grandson, James Stuart Chaney (Robin) of Austin, Texas; granddaughter, Liz Chaney of Denver, Colorado; grandson, Elliot McClain Chaney of God Knows Where, and great-grandchildren Cannon and Clara Czyz. He was preceded in death by his parents, his two older brothers James and Robert, his wife, Margie and sons, James Robert, and Stuart Andrew.

Online condolences may be made here at the Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home website.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be sent to KU Endowment, 1010 N. Kansas St., Wichita, KS 67214 (memo: Ernie and Margie Chaney Fund). Online contributions may be made at , in the choose area(s) section select “other” and in the “other purpose” text box enter “Ernie and Margie Chaney Fund.”

A Celebration of Life Service for Dr. Chaney will be held on June 22, 2024, at 10:30 A.M., at First Christian Church Lawrence, 1000 Kentucky Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044. Lunch in the Fellowship Hall to follow.