July 30, 1942 - April 3, 2020 "Dick" Cone, born in Waterloo Iowa, died of kidney failure in San Gabriel surrounded by his "sheltered in place" family. His 77 years surpassed his mother by a quarter century in spite of their shared polycystic kidney disease, which also touched the lives of three of his four siblings. Those 25 years were the gift of a healthy kidney donation from a stranger lost to gun violence 30 years ago. The extra time multiplied his contributions and seeded them around the world, as he taught first with the Peace Corps in Turkey and later in Iran, Brazil, and Jamaica. During those early years overseas and in Compton, he gained a wider world view and a deep and abiding awareness of poverty, opportunity, and service. When he settled down, he steeped his four children in the values of humility, hard work, service to others, and commitment, as exemplified by his 56 year marriage. He will certainly live on whenever they look at a bookcase he made, host a family work party to build a cabin, or rate the beauty of a sunset. Dick's legacy ripples out to his work family where he led the Joint Educational Project for decades, transforming the lives of thousands of USC students through their formative experiences with inner city neighborhood partners. He inspired many civic minded young people to make their own gentle mark on the world. His vision and name will remain for posterity in two service learning awards named after him at USC and the California Campus Compact. Dick's life shows how much difference a choice as small as checking the organ donor box can make for a man, his family, his community, and the world. When people check that organ donor box, volunteer to be living donors, or vote their conscience in November, they will be honoring the life of Richard Cone and the man whose kidney made so much possible.
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Published in Los Angeles Times on Apr. 26, 2020.