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Activist Jon Kest Dies Month After Daughter Killed During Sandy

By Aidan Gardiner | December 6, 2012 1:35pm | Updated on December 6, 2012 3:40pm

NEW YORK CITY — Only a month after his daughter was killed by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy, prominent social justice advocate Jon Kest has died.

Kest, who was 57 years old, died of cancer, according to the New York Communities for Change.

“New Yorkers lost a passionate voice for those who so often are voiceless,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “He was a tireless advocate and a true champion for equality and justice.”

Kest was the director of NYCC, a non-profit devoted to providing adequate housing and better schools and fighting for other social justice issues.

Before that, he helped found the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, commonly called ACORN, a national, neighborhood-based advocacy group for the underprivileged that shut it doors in 2010 after it drew criticism from political conservatives.

Kest had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer this past summer and his daughter, Jessie Streich-Kest, would frequently visit him, according to Ditmas Park Corner.

Streich-Kest died in October when a tree fell on her and a friend while they walked a dog in Ditmas Park during Hurricane Sandy.

She had just visited her ailing father that day, the Corner reported.

Other political luminaries expressed deep sadness over Jon Kest’s passing, including City Councilman Jumaane Williams, former Community Board 1 chairwoman Julie Menin and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

“Everyone who worked with him knew well his toughness, dedication and compassion,” Congressman Jerrold Nadler said. “As an activist for those without a voice, as a strategist for making concrete change in neglected communities, and as a brilliant fighter for justice, Jon was second to none.

“I will miss him greatly.”

Kest's funeral will be held Dec. 9 at 10:30 a.m. at 52 Broadway, the United Federation of Teachers building. Instead of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to New York Communities for Change.