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Dr. James Michael Kane, Sr., 93, of Barrington died peacefully on June 3, 2018, after a long and full life.
He was born on June 5, 1924, to Michael A. Kane and Edna Fortune in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania. He grew up during the Depression; he never forgot those hard times and remained grateful for his blessings and success. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout. At a young age he was successfully managing theaters in Wilkes-Barre. His older brother, William, encouraged him to attend the University of Scranton. While at first Jim was reluctant to do so, his experience at the University of Scranton allowed him to explore a new career path that became his life’s work as a caring and excellent surgeon. He received his M.D. from Loyola University Medical School in 1950, completed an internship at Mercy Hospital, and received a Masters degree in pathology from Northwestern University. He then served in the Navy as a flight surgeon at the end of the Korean War. He returned to Chicago to complete his residency in General Surgery at Cook County Hospital. He was a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Surgery, and a founding member of the Bariatric Surgical Association, a precursor to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). During his 47 years of practice as a surgeon in the Northwest suburbs, he was a founding staff member of Northwest Community, Alexian Brothers, and St. Alexius Hospitals. As Chief of Surgery at Northwest Community Hospital, he oversaw the expansion of critical care and surgery suites in the 1990s. As a member of the medical staff at Alexian Brothers Hospital in the 1960s, he was instrumental in the hospital’s transition from medical care for men only to general medical care, and in its move from the city to its current location in Elk Grove Village. He later became president of its medical staff, which is now Amita Healthcare System. Dr. Kane was a pioneer in the field of bariatric surgery, and assisted in the development of procedures that culminated in the current standards of bariatric surgery. Always an innovator, he initiated the development of the current Kane Center for Advanced Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. He embraced many advances in surgery throughout his career, continuing to practice until age 80.
In 1952 he married the love of his life Gloria D’Ambrosio whom he met on a blind date. To his good fortune, a woman of her beauty and intelligence said “yes”! Together they raised 4 children, and moved to Connemara Farm in South Barrington, where they built their home and life together for 61 years until her death in 2013. Despite his busy solo practice, he remained engaged in his children’s lives always with a light touch of humor, warmth and affection. He often told people that family is important, and "there's nothing like your kids." He and his wife hosted numerous parties for their friends and families that included skating, snowmobiling, outdoor pig roasts, and horseback rides.
His example of finding satisfaction in his work as a physician inspired 3 children and 5 grandchildren to become physicians or dentists. He and Gloria encouraged all their children and grandchildren to pursue education and find engaging and satisfying careers that suited their talents and personalities. He was a mentor to many others, encouraging them to improve their situation through training, education or a change in career path. He advised others to work hard and not to be dissuaded or disheartened when things did not go smoothly. He looked out for others, and had a great sense of who might need attention, a kind word, or encouragement. He was optimistic, confident, persistent, kind, inclusive, and grateful. He was unpretentious, always willing to laugh at himself, but never at others' expense. He knew he was not “the coolest guy in the room” but he was comfortable with that, because he was still going to have the most fun. He always rooted for the underdog, having been an underdog in much of his early life. He was generous with his time, his money, and his smile.
Dr. Kane had boundless energy, and was nicknamed “The Midnight Cowboy” for his notorious late night hospital rounds only to return to start surgery at 7AM. He had great enthusiasm for life, and loved trying new things. He learned to ski at age 55 because he thought it would be a good family activity. He began competitive equestrian eventing at age 65 because he saw it as a new challenge. In 1977, he and Gloria were among the first travelers to Bhutan when that country began admitting tourists. He enjoyed talking to people from all walks of life.
Gloria introduced Jim to horses on their honeymoon, and he became an avid equestrian. He began foxhunting with the Wayne DuPage Hunt and Oak Brook Hounds, where he became the Field Master under his dear friend Stephen J. Nardi. He bred Illinois racing thoroughbreds. He competed in 3-day eventing (dressage, cross country and stadium jumping) well into his 80’s and in 2003 he was second in the nation for riders above age 55 at his level.
James was preceded in death by his wife Gloria D’Ambrosio, parents Michael and Edna, and his brother William. He is survived by his sister Edna Lynott (Joseph), sister-in-law Ruth Kane; children Mary G. Kane (Vern Kerchberger), M. Elizabeth Kane (Steven Shandley), James M. Kane, Jr. (Amy), and Patricia Kane Schmidt (Robert); grandchildren Eric (Neha Sakaria), Matt, and Anne Marie Kerchberger, Maura, Lisa, and Colleen Shandley, Jenna, James III, Kathleen, and Tara Kane, Chad, Katie, and Jack Holsworth, Rachel, Ben and Isaac Schmidt, and Scott and Paul Kerchberger.
Visitation will be held Sunday, June 10, 2018 from 3-7 p.m. at Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, 941 South Old Rand Rd., Lake Zurich, IL 60047. Mass of Christian Burial will be held the following day, Monday, June 11, at 10:00 a.m. with visiting beginning at 9:00 a.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church, 120 Ela St., Barrington, IL 60010. Burial will follow at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Cemetery, Palatine.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any one of the following organizations: Boy Scouts of America https://www.scouting.org/; Saint Anne Catholic Community https://stannebarrington.org/; Saint Viator High School https://www.saintviator.com/.