On December 6, 2017, Jack Cohen, a Baltimore-bred inventor and author devoted to children’s philanthropy, died in his home city after complications from a stroke. He was 91. The son of Harry and Rebecca Cohen, he grew up in East Baltimore with four siblings—Ethel (Tapper), Dorothy (Depetro), Henry (Cohen) and Anne (Sacks).
As an older child and teenager, Cohen was deeply involved with the Jewish Education Alliance, through which he played baseball and basketball, wrestled and acted. He thanked the alliance for guiding him through the challenges of growing up in the city, and he dedicated a lifetime of children’s philanthropic work to paying the alliance’s good work forward to other organizations. Cohen began his volunteering with the alliance at age 17 as a club adviser. He then served as a scouting cub master for eight years, leading around 65 to 70 boys, which he boasted was the largest pack in the state. From his perch in scouting, Cohen set his sights on helping more Maryland boys. He was the original chairman and later executive vice president of Boys Town Home of Maryland. As part of this position, Cohen tackled juvenile care on a national level. On May 18, 1971, he testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee meeting on a juvenile delinquency act that funded programs such as Boys Town.
In addition to his work there, Cohen held leadership positions in the Citizen’s Democratic Club of Baltimore County, Gov. Marvin Mandel’s commission for young offenders and Big Brothers of Maryland. Professionally, Cohen’s achievements were as widespread as his charitable ones. He wrote “The Book of All-Time Genius,” published by Borderlands Press in 2001. He invented the best-selling toy Bob-A-Loop, which led to a phenomenon pervasive enough to be covered in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Cincinnati Enquirer in 1959.
Though he never attended college himself, Cohen accumulated enough expertise in marketing to teach part-time at the University of Baltimore. He carried his knowledge of marketing and sales into founding the Sales Dynamics Institute, which served clients such as AT&T, H&R Block and Kraft Foods. He also worked as vice president and director of marketing for Doughtie’s Foods Inc.
Throughout his varied accomplishments in the nonprofit and private sectors, Cohen accumulated many awards, recognitions and thank-you notes that he proudly kept late into life. The Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Baltimore issued him a certificate of appreciation for recognizing a need for and leading a Sunday school youth group in which free and thoughtful discussion was fostered and encouraged.
He was awarded Who’s Who in Sales and Marketing (1988-9), WBAL Radio 11’s Brotherhood Award (1976), Jewish War Veterans of America’s Past Commander Award (1995-7) and Safety First Club of Maryland Inc.’s Safety Crusader Appreciation Award, as well as earning recognition from Exchange Club of Baltimore (1976) and the Menorah Lodge (1965-66).
Cohen had three sons: James, Robert and Nicholas Cohen. He doted upon wife, Connie Cohen, whose beauty and company he recalled long after her death in 2000. He had four grandchildren: Nichole Bandurowski, Eden Cohen, Rebecca Cohen and Jeri Donithan. His oldest great-grandchild is Alsion Whitt and his great-great-grandchildren are Harper and Reagan Whitt. The youngest member of his family had only three months to know him but a lifelong tie to his memory—his great-grandchild and namesake Jack Bandurowski. Jack’s mother and Cohen’s granddaughter, Nichole Bandurowski, said at his funeral that the name of no other man could be special or perfect enough for her first son.
He was the beloved husband of the late Connie Cohen; devoted father of Nicholas Cohen, Robert Cohen (Robin Rosenthal) and James (P.A.) Cohen; dear brother of Ethel Tapper, Dorothy Depetro and the late Henry Cohen and Anne Sacks; loving grandfather of Nichole Cohen Bandurowski, Eden A. Cohen, Rebecca Cohen and Jeri Donithan; adoring great-grandfather of Alison Whitt and Jack Bandurowski; adoring great-great-grandfather of Harper and Reagan Whitt. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, at Mount Wilson Lane, on Thursday, December 7, at 11 a.m. Interment at Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery, Berrymans Lane. Please omit flowers. In mourning at 7203 Rockland Hills Drive, Unit# 302, Baltimore, MD 21209. His family asks that contributions in his memory be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1850 York Road, Suite D, Timonium, MD 21093.