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Colleague Voices

In June 1997, on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday, Cone received a plethora of letters and a celebration was held on campus. Many of those she hired or worked with during the early stages of the college’s development wrote or gave a speech in Cone's honor. Those colleagues thought back to the early years or commented on her character and ability:

“Your many friends and admirers are well aware that you have a particular way of bringing people together—both humanly and physically.” – Chancellor Emeritus E.K. Fretwell

“Your mystical ability to see the future and convey that vision to others, including me, was a real gift.” – Ken Sanford, former director of public information and publications at UNC Charlotte

 “Your vision and your stark ‘unblinking’ courage astounded me then even as they continue to epitomize you today.” – Loy Witherspoon, founding chair of religious studies and former faculty president of UNC Charlotte

Professor Emeritus of History Ed Perzel recalled, “No one ever said no to Miss Bonnie. It was not because one feared her but because her positive outlook and energy swept you up and did not let go.” Perzel also remembered discussing the history of UNC Charlotte with Cone for the Freshman Leadership program:

To watch the looks of appreciation and reverence that appeared on the faces of the freshman leaders, as they grasped the enormity of this lady’s presence, is a treasured memory. They understood that few people, in a life time, could walk out their front door, look around, and realize what they surveyed was all there because of their leadership. The women in the class beamed with the recognition of what Bonnie accomplished in a ‘man’s world’ where then most women feared to tread.

Bonnie Cone with her birthday cake, June 1997

Cone with her birthday cake, June 1997.


Founding Kinesiology Chair Emeritus Harvey Murphy, hired by Cone in 1965, remarks on his first impression of her, recorded 2012.