Bonnie Cone was a teacher before anything else. This cannot be forgotten when tracing her commitment to building a university, because the people—largely her students—were always her first priority. This is evident in Cone’s correspondence from Central High through UNC Charlotte and continued after her retirement. Cone single-handedly changed the lives of thousands of people. When those who have met Cone are asked about her direct influence, they invariably provide some version of the description offered by former student Douglas Biddy, who became a member of UNCC’s Board of Trustees in 1973:
She had the capacity to make each student feel that we were special to her and therefore a special person indeed. . . If I, being but a grain of sand in her beach of life, was so affected by her teaching and friendship, I can hardly envision the multitude of lives she has touched over the years. She had the capacity to bring out the very best in the very least, no small task.
Cone clearly had more to offer than instructions to solve mathematical equations, as she deeply influenced many students who later held notable careers, such as brain surgeons, lawyers, and renowned authors.