"Mickey" Maxwell Cohen, born in Brooklyn’s Borough Park in New York, passed away in Beverly, Massachusetts on December 28, 2021. He was 94 years old.
As a youngster, Mickey developed an interest in wildlife. His mother admonished him for using her favorite pot to prepare an animal skeleton for a school project. The family still has the skeleton and the pot.
Mickey met Barbara, the love of his life, as summer camp counselors. Married for 69 years, they were best friends and shared many interests.
An educator, naturalist, environmentalist, civil rights activist and intellectual, Mickey was also expert in antique restoration, ornithology, marine life, and foraging wild foods.
After WWII, Mickey was an Army aircraft welder in Japan. As a favor to General and Mrs. Douglas MacArthur, he welded a custom-designed double cot. At the end of Mickey’s tour, MacArthur showed his gratitude by arranging a return flight home for Mickey, rather than a long troop ship voyage.
Upon discharge, Mickey became a passionate teacher of English, math, physics, and biology in the NYC school system. A National Science Foundation Institute on marine biology inspired his courses at Far Rockaway High School and his vision for Beach Channel High School’s concept of integrating oceanography into every subject. Mickey served as Assistant Principal and Chair of Science and Oceanography, was named National Association of Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher, NY State Biology Teacher of the Year, and won the NY State Marine Educators Presidential Award, Founders Award, Kinghan Service Award and Science Council of NYC Resnick Memorial Presidential Award. Later he taught at the New School for Social Research and Southampton College.
After retirement, Mickey led dozens of trips to the Galapagos Islands and East Africa. Leading hundreds of American Littoral Society field trips in NY and other Northeast beaches earned him and Barbara the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mickey lectured on global warming years before it became a household concern. He was a collector of Currier and Ives prints, and used them to create lectures on whaling, natural history and social issues. He was an antique radio buff and became fluent in Morse Code just for the challenge of learning a dying art.
After 60 years living on the shores of Jamaica Bay in Far Rockaway, Mickey and Barbara moved to Manhattan, blocks from the American Museum of Natural History, where he and Barbara became volunteers. Mickey often spoke of his first visit to the museum in the 1930s on a grade school field trip, when his teacher pointed out fossils embedded in the steps of the Grand Staircase. He later found great joy in introducing the Museum to his young sons, Andy and Brad.
Nobody was surprised when Mickey was named Docent of the Year for his volunteer interpretive work. He was especially proud when a close friend donated a seat with his name and Barbara’s on a plaque in the museum’s theater.
In 2020, Mickey and Barbara left New York City for Beverly, Massachusetts, to be close to family.
Mickey fulfilled a lifetime desire to support science and research. He continued that quest just yesterday, by donating his body to the Anatomical Gift Program at Harvard Medical School.
Mickey is survived by his wife of 69 years, Barbara, children Bradley and Andy (Gerri), and grandchildren Jackie and Jonathan.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the American Littoral Society, in Mickey’s memory. Click the following link to donate: www.littoralsociety.org/donate-general.html Please write “NE Chapter in Memory of Mickey Cohen” in the comments.
A virtual celebration of life, via ZOOM, will be scheduled.