Longtime Syracuse activist Dik Cool passed away peacefully on November 9, 2023 after a largely successful 17 year fight against prostate cancer. Born in Syracuse NY, on December 17th, 1943 to Raymond and Esther Cool, Dik devoted his entire adult life to the movements for justice, peace and protecting the earth. After graduating from Liverpool High School in 1961, his journey began with his resistance to fight in the Vietnam War, for which he was imprisoned for two years. While still on probation, Dik began working for the Syracuse Peace Council and played a key role in its development into a vibrant, powerful, multi-issue grassroots organization. In 1982, he was one of a group of people to organize and begin the Syracuse Cultural Workers which to this day is an internationally known publisher of peace and justice products, including the Peace Calendar. Along the way, Dik co-founded ArtRage Gallery and was very proud of the community space that it became.
He was a meticulous organizer and strategist with a deep compelling grasp of politics, local and international. A lifelong resistor to authority, he firmly believed that every action helped from bumper stickers to lawn signs, buttons, letters to the editor, protests, and the need for radical art. He was also an optimist; never giving in or giving up, always believing in the power of people showing up for each other and for a cause.
A fierce competitor whether on the basketball court, bowling alley or playing cards, Dik also enjoyed being outdoors in the Adirondacks, the Erie Canal, canoeing, gardening, canning tomatoes, creek-walking and camping. He lived an intentional life, from composting to supporting local small businesses, or working to build community. He strongly believed in living collectively. For many years he lived on and off in a collective family in the Westcott Neighborhood (Grassroots-Dandelion), where he enjoyed raising children and nourishing his blood-related and chosen family.
Dik is survived by his longtime partner and companion Karen Mihalyi, their daughter Cora Cool-Mihalyi (Theresa), his sister Liz Cool, nephews Derek Jutton (Denise), Mark Cool (Anne) and Jasper Cool (Naja), and niece Celina Cool. He is also remembered lovingly by his collective chosen family: Jack Manno, Cindy Squillace, Dan Manno (Rebekah), Dianna Squillace-Manno (Dan), Pam Walker, Mary Rosa Walker, Christopher Perdue and a deep circle of friends.
Donations in his name can be made to the Syracuse Cultural Workers, the Syracuse Community Choir, ArtRage Gallery, or the Syracuse Peace Council. There will be a memorial service to celebrate Dik on Saturday, November 25 at 1:00pm at University United Methodist Church.