Kate Kane may have been a hard-core activist, but it was her gentle nature and gift for listening that made her so effective in her work for social justice, friends said.

"She had an incredible way of rapport and compassion, and an ability to connect across different divides," said Janice Andersen, director of Christian Life at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, where Kane volunteered for more than 18 years. Kane worked with homeless people, helped families find housing and prepared people for employment.

"The connections she made, the resources she provided, the hope and transformation that she offered -- that changed lives," Andersen said.

Kane, 71, of Minneapolis, died of respiratory failure Jan. 1. A memorial service was held Friday at First Universalist Church in Minneapolis.

She was the daughter of Hennepin County District Judge Stanley Kane and a state DFL chair, Betty Kane. Friends said the apple didn't fall too far from the tree.

Kane joined the Occupy Wall Street protesters, showed up at an anti-war rally dressed as a Guantanamo Bay torture victim and was a longtime supporter of Women Against Military Madness. She volunteered at Peace House Community, a homeless shelter on Franklin Avenue, and took bus rides to Washington, D.C., and New York City to take part in demonstrations.

An active Green Party member, her "high point" was introducing Ralph Nader at a Twin Cities rally, according to an essay written by Ruth Cain in Kane's memorial program.

"She had such compassion and call to justice," said friend Elizabeth Rosenwinkel. "Her love for life was just remarkable."

Kane also was a playwright and poet, and was published in the national Catholic weekly publication, America Magazine. She once had the nerve to stand up at a poetry slam contest at Kieran's Pub, and walked out a winner.

A childhood accident left her unable to drive or ride a bike, and made it difficult for her to stay focused. But she rode the bus and wrote herself notes to stay organized.

Some took to calling her "Sophia" after a blind client at the Basilica became so taken with her friendly manner that he asked what she looked like.

Without skipping a beat, Kane said, "Well, people tell me I am a shoo-in for Sophia Loren."

Kane is survived by her partner, Jack Stuart, and a brother, Dan Kane. Services have been held.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335