Dr. C. Harold Cohn passed away on February 11, 2021 at The Reading Hospital. He managed to fit multiple lifetimes into his 97 years of existence. He was a great man.
Born in 1924, he was the only child of Lillian Einhorn Cohn and Louis R. Cohn. As a child, he enjoyed traveling and had two passports fully filled by the age of 12. He graduated from Reading High School in 1941, then attended Bucknell University. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, served over 8 years and achieved the rank of Captain. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA in 1948.
Dr. Cohn was prideful of his Jewish faith. He was a lifelong member first at Kesher Zion Synagogue and later at Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom, both in Reading, PA.
Despite all the rigors of his undergraduate and medical school studies, he was quite proud of his active social life, which included managing a fraternity house to subsidize his living expenses, frequent jaunts to New York City and being a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan.
Following his graduation from Jefferson, he embarked on a series of medical internships, residencies, and fellowships. As part of his military medical service, he was a surgeon for ten months in a busy Army hospital unit stationed in Japan during the Korean War. After his discharge from the Army, he returned to Jefferson where he contributed to medical history as one of the operators of the heart lung-machine pioneered by Dr. John Gibbon for the first open-heart surgery in 1953. His exploration of the heart continued that year when he married Ruth Katz.
After working as a surgical resident with Dr. Gibbon for three years, he returned to Reading with Ruth and son David. Throughout his long and distinguished medical career, he took great pride in always being the “Captain of his Medical Ship.” He was on the staff and later appointed the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at The Reading Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Community General Hospital. Early in his medical practice, he was one of the first surgeons recruited by Medtronic to implant cardiac pacemakers. He retired from his full-time surgical practice in 1989. He was then named as the Senior Consultant Surgeon to the Hospital Section of Thoracic Surgery at The Reading Hospital while continuing to instruct on vein transplantation. He also became the first Medical Director for the Berkshire Health Plan PPO.
Throughout his medical career, he was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues. He could be plainspoken to the point of being blunt, yet he would spend considerable time explaining detailed surgical outcomes to the families of his patients.
His joys in life were many and varied, including travel, the theater, music, cultural explorations as well as such simple joys such as a good cocktail, a well-made sandwich, and any dog he came upon. He was a devoted golfer. He relished fishing with colleagues and son Paul. Friends were cherished. In his later years, his daily calls to daughter Susan were many and frequently involved overcoming the unknown intricacies of his computer.
There could be little doubt that what brought him his greatest joy was his family – sharing in their many experiences, both simple and special. He took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and granddaughters. The love and respect he shared with his family were reciprocated with their own love and devotion to him.
He was preceded in death by Ruth K. Cohn, his wife of 59 years, and is survived by his children, David L. Cohn (Carol Borloff), Paul D. Cohn (Jo Ann Kisling) and Susan C. Evans; and granddaughters Abigail Wargo (Matt), Tessa Cohn, Sarah Evans, and Andrea Evans. His last nine years were also filled with light and love with Rebecca J. Chick.
The family would like to thank the professional and nursing staff at Phoebe Berks for their kindness and care over the years. Executive Director Star High’s unwavering professionalism was especially appreciated as she balanced his determined stubbornness with his care and safety. We are also indebted to his aide Jean Chery for improving our father’s quality of life during the past two years. Lastly, we want to thank the professional caring physicians and nurses at The Reading Hospital who provided our father with excellent clinical care as well as a wonderful and compassionate bedside experience. We know our father would have been very proud of them all.
A celebration of his life will be scheduled when it is safe to gather.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in memory of Dr. C. Harold Cohn to either the Reading Hospital Foundation at P.O. Box 16052, Reading, PA 19612, https://events.towerhealth.org/make-a-gift/ or to the Wolper Educational Fund at Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom at https://ohebsholom.org/support/#ed/.
The Klee Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., Shillington is assisting the Cohn family. www.kleefuneralhome.com