Harold Cohen, of Salem and Boca Raton, Fla., formerly of Swampscott and Nantucket, entered into rest on September 29, 2020 surrounded by his family, at the age of 89.
Beloved husband of the late Janice (Samuelson) Cohen. Devoted father of Jill and Tom Bloom of Hollywood, Fla., Beth and Peter Shribman of Swampscott, Linda and Steven Weinstein of Marblehead, and Brian and Michele Cohen of Marblehead. Cherished grandfather of Jeremy and Sharlene Weber, Ross and Ari Weber, Cory Weber, Randy Weber, Danny and Laura Shribman, Nikki and Doug Lutin, Katie and Mark O’Shea, Samantha and Zach Weiss, Tim Weinstein, Karly Cohen, Jake Cohen, Jessica Cohen, and the late Charlie Madyson Weber. Treasured great-grandfather to Ava Weber, Tyler Weber, Harry Shribman, Benny Shribman, Lizzie Shribman, Kelsey Lutin, Jake Lutin, Nathan Weber, and William O’Shea. The loving brother of Gertrude Gilman, the late James Cohen, and the late Melvin Cohen. Dear son of the late Samuel and Minnie (Goldstein) Cohen.
Harold was born on January 16, 1931 and grew up in Chelsea. After graduating from Cushing Academy in 1948, he attended the Business School at Indiana University. While at IU, Harold and his Pi Lambda Phi fraternity brothers rode in the first Little 500 bicycle race and set the pole position. Upon his graduation in 1952, he married his college sweetheart, Janice Samuelson, and whisked her off to Germany, where he served in the army for the next two years. When his tour was up, the young couple returned to New England, ultimately settling in Swampscott to raise their family. In 1956, along with his brother Melvin, Harold purchased Prospect Lumber on McGrath Highway in Somerville, and renamed it Somerville Lumber. The business grew into a chain of 10 stores throughout the 70s and 80s, reaching the pinnacle of its success in 1981 when the National Home Retailers Association named it the Home Center of the Year.
Harold was a dedicated member of Temple Israel (later Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott), where he served on the Board and was an active member of the Temple Brotherhood. Harold was extraordinarily philanthropic; he donated generously to many charitable causes, including Congregation Shirat Hayam, The MS society, MGH, Dana Farber, the Special Olympics, and Israel Bonds, who honored him in Boca Raton, Florida for his work on their behalf in 2015. He and his late wife Janice funded college scholarships for students in multiple communities close to their hearts, including Chelsea, Somerville, Swampscott, and even as far as Whitwall, Tennessee, after a documentary about the Holocaust education project at the Whitwall Middle School inspired them to visit. Harold and Janice also set up a scholarship program for the families of former Somerville Lumber employees, which awarded grants through 2019.
Without question, Harold believed that his greatest achievement was his close-knit, ever-growing family. He cherished time spent with them during holidays and family celebrations, and he loved nothing more than sitting on a cold, wet, bleacher seat, watching a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild play with a ball or a puck.
Due to safety regulations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, burial was private.
In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Harold’s memory to The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, National Headquarters, 6520 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309-2132; or to The Mass General Fund, Mass General Development Office, 125 Nashua St., Suite 540 Boston, MA 02114-1101.
For more information or to register in the online guestbook, visit stanetskyhymansonsalem.com.