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Cone officially retired from UNC Charlotte on June 30, 1973, but that doesn’t mean she began to slow down. As vice chancellor emeritus, she continued to be remarkably active in the community and on campus. She worked part time for the Office of Development and the Foundation of UNC Charlotte from 1973 to 1977. At the age of eighty-two, her ambition remained strong as she ran for a seat on the Board of Governors. Although she was not elected to that seat, she continued to remain active on campus until she was physically unable, often attending campus events—such as basketball games and alumni events—and doing anything she could to support the university.

In a 1987 letter, C.D. Spangler, Jr. let her know that her influence indirectly continued to support the college: “Even now we learn that Nordica Adelaide Jamieson has left her estate to the University. She did so specifically because she admired you and what you were doing. I suspect, while you never knew her, she probably knew you quite well.”

A 1982 article from The Charlotte Weekly South considers the fact that Cone never married. Cone is quoted as saying, “My mother said I never had time for it. Perhaps I didn’t, but I guess you can make time for anything.” And children? Cone had thousands of children.

Bonnie Cone seated in a race car, circa 1990

Bonnie Cone buckled into a race car for an alumni event, circa 1990.

Bonnie Cone died at the age of ninety-five on March 8, 2003. She is the only person buried on the UNC Charlotte campus. Her stone memorial is in the Van Landingham Glen and reads “Founder The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.” It is inscribed with a quote by American author Edward Everett Hale, the same one on a ceramic tile that Cone kept on her desk:

I am only one
But I am one
I cannot do everything
But I can do something
What I can do
I ought to do
And what I ought to do
By the grace of God, I will do
Bonnie Cone's resting place

Bonnie Cone's memorial and grave site in the Van Landingham Glen at UNC Charlotte.