Longtime KC homeless advocate Richard Tripp passes away

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A cherished local activist passed away Wednesday morning after a battle with cancer. Richard G. Tripp, 67, affectionately known as “King Richard” to Kansas City’s poor and homeless for almost 30 years, dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate.

A longtime friend Dawn Marriott, who often volunteered alongside Tripp, said he died in his sleep in a nursing home after a battle with stage 4 lung cancer.

He was a proud Kansas City native and father of nine.

Tripp’s journey to advocate for the homeless started after he found himself homeless and living under the Broadway Bridge.

“You find out what life’s really about once you get down that low,” Tripp once told FOX 4.

Tripp eventually decided the best way to help his own situation was to help others. He founded an organization called Care of Poor People, or COOP Inc., and spent the rest of his life working with the community hosting events and raising donations of clothing, food, money, and anything else to help the city’s homeless.

Tripp also worked as a cab driver and authored the book “Please Underestimate Me: The Blood, Guts, and Soul of Richard G. Tripp” in which he profiled his experience with poverty.

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“They will move, and they will survive,” Tripp said when a homeless camp was forced to move from Mulky Square Park in 2012.

FOX 4 caught up with Tripp four years ago when a homeless camp was forced to vacate the area. He was there to help however he could, and to speak out as an advocate.

Having experienced homelessness himself, Tripp served the community with no judgment, no questions asked.

“You find out they are not much different then anybody else.  The only difference is they got unlucky and something in their life put them down on the bottom.  Our goal is to keep them alive,” Tripp told FOX 4 at an event he had organized distributing clothes and food for the poor.

Tripp was gracious to the community for their support of his organization.

Richard’s brother Donald said in a Facebook post Tuesday that Richard received “many honors for his work of which the last I am aware of was being presented “Honorary Kentucky Colonel” from the governor of the state of Kentucky for his work with the poor.”

Kansas City may have lost a beloved humanitarian, but his legacy will continue on.

Tripp’s funeral arrangements are pending. Marriott said a fund has been set up to help with his funeral expenses. Contributions can be mailed to

Richard G. Tripp Memorial Fund
910 Pennsylvania Apt 310
Kansas City, MO 64105