A very sad story indeed: Community activist Jon Kest has died of cancer only weeks after his daughter was killed by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy.

Kest was the head of New York Communities For Change and was deeply involved in unionizing workers and advocating on behalf of low-income New Yorkers.

From Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend, Jon Kest. It’s not an exaggeration to say that there have been few efforts to empower poor and working people in New York State in the last 25 years that haven’t borne his imprint. New York has lost a truly selfless champion of social justice, and I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

From Rep. Jerry Nadler:

I am deeply saddened by the death of my longtime friend and fellow advocate Jon Kest, whose leadership guided ACORN and NY Communities for Change for years. 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. Everyone who worked with him knew well his toughness, dedication and compassion. I had the honor of working with Jon on numerous issues over the last many years, and I will miss him greatly. We can all honor his memory by working hard every day to advance the cause of justice in our own communities. My thoughts go out to the Kest family, which has only just begun to absorb the tragic loss of Jon’s daughter, Jessie.”

And from the group he led, New York Communities for Change:

Today is a tragic day for NYCC members, staff, and our extended family in the progressive movement in New York and across the country, as we mourn the loss of New York Communities for Change Executive Director and legendary organizer Jon Kest. Jon passed away last night at the age of 57 after a battle with cancer. Our hearts go out to Jon’s wife Fran, their son Jake, and the entire Kest family. For so many of us, Jon was a leader, a mentor, a friend and above all the person whose belief in our ability to create change moved us, day in and day out, to fight for the issues facing our communities, our city and our state. Without Jon’s leadership and vision, countless hard fought victories for tenants, parents, workers and communities would not have been possible. The NYCC family and our allies will keep Jon’s spirit alive, by continuing to organize, to fight and to build power for working families in our state. To continue these fights with the skill and dedication we learned from Jon seems the only fitting tribute to such a life.