John Akinwale, who dedicated his life to offering medical aid to Africa, dies at 78

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Dr. John Akinwale was a man who sought to enrich the lives of others by uplifting communities he served locally and internationally. A medical scientist and researcher, Dr. Akinwale’s determination to help others led to years of resources, philanthropy, and change.

“He was wise with a unique passion of helping others,” said Mike Ighoyivi, a friend and senior pastor at Akinwale’s church, New Life Christian Fellowship in Kansas City.

Akinwale died on April 16 in Kansas City after a battle with cancer. He was 78 years old.

Akinwale was born on December 31, 1942 to Joseph and Sabana Akinwale in Lagos, Nigeria. Akinwale’s parents were both in the pharmaceutical field, an early motivator that led him to migrate to the United States in the late 1960’s to pursue an education in medicine.

“He wanted to enlighten those in Africa through the education he received,” his wife, Grace Akinwale, said.

Akinwale received his Bachelor of Arts degree in pre-med from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He loved to learn and wanted to learn as much as he could to educate and enhance the lives of those in Africa, family said. He furthered his studies in the Kansas City area with graduate work in physiology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Northwest Missouri State University. He later became a graduate of the UMKC Community Fellows Program.

Growing up in Lagos, which Grace Akinwale described as a “rough” town, Akinwale saw firsthand the overwhelming amount to which those who struggled financially did not have access to medical care supplies. In 1996 he started the African Chamber of Commerce in Greater Kansas City, serving as its CEO. For 23 years, he used the platform to recruit doctors, nurses and dentists for humanitarian missions in Africa. Through Akinwale’s strong efforts to offer medical aid, he was able to provide vital medical, dental, and pharmaceutical equipment in Africa at no cost to facilities.

“He was a good community leader who could organize efforts for local and international needs,” his pastor, Ighoyivwi, said.

Akinwale also lent his time to the African Believers of Christ and the International Student Fellowship of Greater Kansas City, a group aimed at bringing African Christians and their families together for prayer and fellowship. The purpose of the group was to reach Americans who were interested in praying for Africa.

“I would like to see more stable family ties among Africans in the area and stable emotional feelings. Some of them are discouraged about what is going on in Africa, for example, the instability in many countries on the continent,” Akinwale said in a 1996 interview with The Star.

In addition to medical aid to Africa, Akinwale was committed to providing better access to education. He served in several other organizations, including the 100 Black Men and the Healthcare Christian Fellowship. He was the U.S. representative to the fellowship’s world congress in 1992 in Austria. He was the executive member of Freetown, Sierra-Leone Sister City committee for Kansas City, and launched an Africare organization in Kansas City.

“He just tried to bring awareness to local leaders about how to help the communities and how to benefit the programs that needed to be developed to help people,” Ighoyivwi said of Akinwale’s dedication to increasing resources for the community. “He often attended different forums and different community events. He was able to speak and contribute his opinion about how to improve our community.”

Later in life, Akinwale became co-pastor at New Life Fellowship Church, touching the lives of many like the youth he encouraged by teaching them to strive for excellence. He also ministered to local nursing homes in Kansas City.

When he wasn’t preaching the word of God or advocating for his community, Akinwale enjoyed watching soccer and cooking his favorite African dishes.

“He was very passionate about cooking. He loved to cook Egusi Soup, fish, and amala,” Ighoyivwi said with a laugh.

Before his illness took a turn for the worst, Akinwale still found ways to enrich the lives of others. He was a Health and Life Coach with Tre’vo, recruiting individuals interested in financial stability and nutritional products.

He is survived by his wife, Funmilayo Grace Akinwale and a host of neices and nephews

Other remembrances

Elder Cox Jr.

Elder Virgil Cox, Jr., long time Kansas City Pastor, dies at the age of 98.

Cox was born on August 9, 1923 to Virgil Cox, Sr. and Eron Cox in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He attended elementary and secondary schools at Crispus Attucks in Indianapolis. While in high school, Cox introduced a bible study group for students later dedicating his life to Christ at the age of 17.

Cox joined the US Army at 20 years old. He was stationed in Saipan Islands. In 1945, he was received an honorable discharge with an honorable discharge as Staff Sergeant from the Army.

After his service to the country, Cox attended Butler University and Aenon Bible College in Ohio for religious studies. In 1963, Virgil was called to pastor his first church San Diego. On his way, he found himself in Kansas City because of car trouble. Kansas City would become home.

During his time in Kansas City, Virgil met the love of his wife Joe Dell. The two married in 1966 and together have two children.

In 1979, Virgil started his own church the Good Shepherd’s Assembly where he remained the pastor until the age of 80 when he retired.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joe Dell; eight children, Virgil Cox III, Pamela Heard, Tanya Harris, Jerome, Denita Elloie, Chrisopher Brooks, Ericka Cox, and Qiana Cox-Saxton

Dwight Cain

Dwight Hall Cain, affectionately known as “DC,” was born on November 19, 1951 in Coffeyville, Kansas to Raymond Oliver and Wilmarie Brown Cain.

He graduated from Central High School in 1969, attending Coffeyville Community College receiving an associate’s degree in business.

He met his wife, Wanda Jean Fletcher, in 1975. The two married in 1982 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Dwight was employed as a youth counselor for the Jackson County Juvenile Court, a Sales Manager for the Johnson Products Company, and American Airlines.

Dwight was the epitome of a big brother and a family man. Described as someone who inspired his family and friends with love and compassion, DC had much love for his nieces and nephews supporting most of their sporting events, dance recitals and graduations flying in and out on the same day.

Dwight is survived by his father, Raymond Cain; wife, Wanda Jean; daughter, Renale; brother, Raymond E.; and sisters, Cynthia Cain Motley, Rita Cain Long-Bradley, Carla Bush and Karen Wilkinson.

Reginald Jones

Reginald Eric Jones, known for his passion of cooking and serving his community, died April 21. He was 70 years old.

Jones was born to George Lee Jones and Violet Corean Blair-Jones on June 26, 1950 in Kansas City, Kansas. He was the fifth child born and well known among family and friends as “Nudy”.

Jones graduated from Sumner High School in 1969. While there he played the trumpet, ran track, and was a member of the 1969 State Championship basketball team.

Reginald loved to cook and used his passion as a way to serve the local community through volunteer opportunities at the Salvation Army, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Mary’s Church, and The Wilhelmina Grill Center.

Jones is survived by one son, Brandall D. Towns; two brothers, Phillip W. Jones and Michael O. Jones Sr.; five sisters, Debra E. Norman, Madelyn S. Robinson, Stephanie J. Grady, Rowena B. Hall and Valeria C. Jones of Kansas City, KS; as well as two grandsons, Brandall D. Towns Jr. and Diamond D. Towns

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