Tony York, the second oldest son of John York and Denise DeBartolo York, owners of the San Francisco 49ers, has died at the age of 35. York’s tragic passing, on December 7, was announced in an official statement on the 49ers website. The release read, “With deep sadness, we mourn the passing of our beloved son and brother, Tony. Although our hearts are quite heavy at this time, we have so many special memories shared with him to carry us forward. Tony will forever be remembered as a bright, spirited entrepreneur with an unmatched passion to serve others who could brighten a room with his personality and sense of humor. Tony, we love you.” No cause of death was mentioned in the statement.
Tony Work Was Deeply Affected by Hurricane Katrina
The statement refers to York as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was a graduate of Tulane University and a resident of Sausalito, on the outskirts of San Francisco. York founded KODA, a company that helped young people find jobs upon graduating. The press release announcing his passing said that York had been inspired to set up the company after seeing the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused in New Orleans in 2005 while he was a senior at Tulane. In addition, York was known for his work with incarcerated youths and the 49ers Foundation. San Quentin News reported in January 2018 that York was present at an event on social justice in San Quentin prison. In 2014, Silicon Valley Talk reported that York along with his father had spent time in New Orleans speaking with high school students who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Koda was featured in the book, “Start It Up: The Complete Teen Business Guide to Turning Your Passions Into Pay.” York’s KODA co-founder is quoted in the book as saying the pair were inspired to set up their business after they “realized that our generation was lost when it came to finding a job after graduation.”
The pair were 22 when they set up the business. It was widely reported that KODA received $3 million in angel investment in 2009. In a 2013 interview with Inc., Jeff Berger mentioned that KODA “did not go as planned” and the company closed its doors. In an interview with StartUp Beat, Berger spoke about the moment the pair decided to start the company, “There was never one “ah-ha” moment. What turned Tony (my co-founder) and me onto the space was that regardless of who you spoke to, everyone has or had experienced the same problem. It didn’t matter if you were 40 years old or a senior in college, everyone could relate to the challenge of trying to find a job post-college. Communicating and networking has become so much easier through the web and it was amazing to us that connecting with employers was still so difficult.”
Tony York’s Calling Card Was His ‘Infectious Sense of Humor & His Kindness’
York is survived by his parents, his older brother Jed and his wife, Danielle, his twin sisters, Jenna and Mara as well as his nephews Jaxon Brixton.
A September 2000 feature on the York family in the San Francisco Chronicle details that that York was a halfback and linebacker for Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. The statement announcing York’s death says that York earned letters in baseball and football in high school. The tribute goes on to say that York’s “calling cards were his infectious sense of humor and his kindness.” The Chronicle article, which was written while all of the York children were teenagers, described their home in Youngstown as “palatial” with a gate that sat on 129 acres.