Evelyn Cohen, a longtime resident of Aquinnah, died at her home on June 13 from natural causes. She was 89.
She will always be remembered for her irresistible charm, zest for life, love of literature and relaxed but glowing chic. Visitors to the Aquinnah home Evelyn shared with her late husband, Henry Cohen, would enjoy the savvy discussions of politics, Evelyn’s ready quotes from Shakespearean sonnets, the sweeping views of Menemsha and Squibnocket Ponds and Henry’s famous blintzes.
Born Evelyn Marjorie Fuhrman on April 16, 1923 in Yonkers, N.Y., she was the second of two daughters born to Ann and Abraham Fuhrman. Along with his three brothers, her father co-founded the department store, Fuhrman’s, based in Kingsbridge, the Bronx, N.Y. Her mother worked at the family store as a saleswoman in the foundations department until the age of 93.
Evelyn graduated from Walton High School and Hunter College. Her lifelong love of literature came to light when two of her short stories were published in anthologies in 1948. In the same year, she met and married her husband of over 50 years, Henry Cohen. A Bronx gal and a Brooklyn guy. Shortly after the marriage, the couple boarded a transatlantic ocean liner bound for England, where Henry, an urban planner with a graduate degree from M.I.T., participated in post-war reconstruction efforts. Nearly two years later, they returned to the U.S. and started a family. Henry, who would work for the city of New York as a senior official for over two decades in the Wagner and Lindsay Administrations, got his first city job the day their first child was born. The couple, who had three children, Alison, Lois (who died in childhood) and Dan, settled in Douglaston, N.Y.
At the invitation of Henry’s colleague, the late Mitchell Sviridoff of Aquinnah and New Haven, Henry, Evelyn and their children first came to Martha’s Vineyard. They bought their Aquinnah home in 1966 and became an integral part of a circle of up-Island summer residents from New York city and elsewhere.
Evelyn received a master’s degree in social work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University and began clinical practice in service agencies. She served as the director of social work for the New York Agency for New Americans, an organization that assisted immigrants, principally from the former Soviet Union, in settling in and adjusting to life in the U.S. When Henry moved to the New School of Social Research in New York’s Greenwich Village, the couple took up residence nearby on Twelfth street. Henry ultimately served as founding dean of the New School’s Milano Center School for Urban Management and Policy Studies and received the founder’s medal upon his retirement. After retirement, the couple was able to spend their entire summers on the Vineyard, until Henry died in 1999.
As a widow, Evelyn continued to summer on the Vineyard, spending time with her many friends here, punctuated by frequent family visits. She became a full-time resident in 2006 and lived the rest of her life on her beloved Island, taking walks down Philbin Beach, shopping at Cronig’s, Larsen’s and Morning Glory Farm, attending services and programs at the Hebrew Center, programs at the Chilmark Center and lunching at the Black Dog. She is survived by her daughter and son in law, Alison Rose and Ed Levy, her son and daughter in law, Dan and Katherine Booth Cohen and her grandchildren, Anna, of the Bay area, and Rosalie.
Donations in her memory can be offered to the Rabbi’s Special Fund at the Hebrew Center and to the Chilmark Library.