TOPEKA—Governor Sam Brownback issued the following statement Thursday after learning of the death of Gil Alexander, whose inspirational story behind finding a kidney donation gained nationwide attention and was featured in the 2013 Brownback family Christmas card.

“Gil was a deeply respected member of the community, brilliant farmer, talented musician, and a good friend. His story touched thousands of lives, and he worked with passion to bring the importance of organ donation to the public conscience,” Governor Brownback said. “I’m happy I have the pleasure of knowing him and so saddened about his passing and the loss for the community of Nicodemus.”

Alexander farmed a large swath of land originally homesteaded by his great-grandfather Samuel Garland, who was born into slavery in Mississippi and later served as a Buffalo Solider stationed at Fort Leavenworth.

Alexander’s reputation was as a good neighbor, known for supplying sensible advice and serving as a pillar of the community. He was involved in developing the Kansas Black Farmer’s Association, and he served on the local library board. He also was a member of First Missionary Baptist Church in Nicodemus, playing piano and singing in the choir.

He gained nationwide attention in 2013 when media shared the story of his friendship with Rob Robinson, a Mississippi man who had knocked on Alexander’s door asking to hunt on his property. The two men formed a close relationship. Robinson found he was a perfect match to donate a kidney to Alexander, and ended up saving his life that way. Later, the two advocated on behalf of organ donation together, including through a visit with Governor Brownback at the Kansas statehouse.

Alexander’s funeral will be 11 a.m. Saturday at First Missionary Baptist Church in Nicodemus.

Memorial contributions can be made to First Missionary Baptist Church, Nicodemus.

From left, Rob Robinson, Governor Brownback, and Gil Alexander

From left, Rob Robinson, Governor Brownback, and Gil Alexander. Photo Courtesy Wichita Eagle.