Alice Cone had steadfast beliefs: be honest and have integrity. But above all, the longtime North Babylon resident and community activist believed in the power of education.
"She always said, education is the one thing nobody can ever take away from you," said Cone's daughter, Clara Cone-Harvey, of Jersey City, N.J.
Cone died from complications of pancreatic cancer at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip on March 19. She was 74.
Cone was born in South Carolina but moved to Harlem when she was 4 to be raised by her great-aunt after the deaths of her parents. In 1955, she married her high school sweetheart, Madison W. Cone, and in 1965 the couple moved to North Babylon, where they raised six children.
Cone pursued a college education, earning a bachelor's degree in education from SUNY Old Westbury and a master's in special education from LIU Post.
For 25 years, Cone worked as a special-education teacher, senior personnel administrator and employee service officer. Later, she was human resources director for Long Island Head Start.
Cone was a fixture of the Belmont Lake Civic Association, serving most recently as president of the organization, which is believed to be one of the oldest African-American civic associations in the state.
Whether advocating for a quality education for district children or pushing for better policing, Cone was an ardent fighter for her community.
"It came from her heart," her daughter said. "She just helped in so many ways across many segments of society, all for the common goal of education and community."
Although she was a Republican, Cone "believed in crossing lines for the common good," her daughter said.
Suffolk Democratic chairman and Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer called Cone "an icon" in North Babylon but noted that "her reach stretched beyond the civic borders."
"She was always very direct," he said. "If you didn't respond to her, she let you know it. But she was always very professional."
Cone served many years as president of the Catholics of African Ancestry at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch and was currently trustee for Resurrection House, which provides housing for homeless families. She also was on the longterm planning committee for the North Babylon school district.
Survivors include her husband Madison, of North Babylon; daughters Deborah Cone-King, of Friendswood, Texas, Sondra Cone, of North Babylon, Sharon Cone-Ingram, of White Plains, N.Y., and Patricia Cone-Samuel of Muskogee, Okla.; son Harold Cone Sr., of Kernersville, N.C.; sister Burlie Irick of Daytona, Fla.; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A wake will be held Thursday at Mangano Funeral Home in Deer Park, from 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-9:30 p.m. The funeral will be Friday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch. Burial will be at Pinelawn Memorial Park.