OBITUARY

Bernard S. Cohen

17 January, 193412 October, 2020

Due to the current gathering restrictions, a Committal Service will be held for immediate family only(video of the service is viewable via the link below.) A Memorial Service for all to attend will be scheduled at a later date. We welcome you to use this page to leave condolences, memories, or a message for the family.

Washington Post Obituary: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/bernard-cohen-lawyer-who-won-victory-for-interracial-marriage-in-loving-v-virginia-dies-at-86/2020/10/13/82506128-0d4f-11eb-8074-0e943a91bf08_story.html

New York Times Obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/bernard-cohen-dead.html

Donations in Bernie’s honor may be made to the following organizations:

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Memories

Bernard S. Cohen

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Alan Branfman

October 30, 2020

Bernie was a mensch extraordinaire. Our mutual respect superseded our political differences, and for many years we enjoyed chatting socially at our monthly group dinners.
Bernie was in good humor with a kind heart and a genteel disposition. One way Bernie fought off his disease was by daily bicycling around our Fawn Lake community in full regalia (helmet with rear view mirror, and all), albeit at a snail’s pace. I loved kibitzing with him by pulling my car up next to him and shouting, “hey mister! you’re hogging the road! Can’t you go any faster?” In his good natured fashion he would reply, “I AM going faster!”
Shalom, Bernie. May your memory always be a blessing.
, , ,

Morton Zetlin

October 20, 2020



We were proud and joyful with your family when Bernie won the Loving case with a unanimous verdict before the Supreme Court. We kvelled when Bernie won the Christmas Tree case as well. He told me, “It’s nice not to have the umblick of not having enough money.

I was so proud and honored to be a friend of Bernie’s. I always thought of him as my smart friend. I’ll explain. When we were considering moving from Annandale to Alexandria, Bernie called me and told me of a colleague of his who was selling a lot in Vaucluse. His friend had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to sell. We bought the lot, built a lovely home and lived there from 1971-1978, thanks to Bernie.

When Nixon was running for a second term, Bernie stood up at a Men’s club meeting and pleaded with everyone to vote for George McGovern. He said, “Don’t you realize that Nixon is going to be impeached?” He was right; again, he was my smart friend.

Mark was seriously injured on route 95 when a car ahead of him ran out of gas and he couldn’t avoid a collision. After he suffered facial injuries, we asked Bernie to represent Mark. Bernie was able to get Mark a very good settlement, even though Mark hit the car from behind.
As I said, he was my smart friend.

We were proud when he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, too. We weren’t the only ones who knew how smart he was. With all of his demeanor, dignity and acumen, Bernie was such a sweet person.

Jim Rooks

October 20, 2020

Bernie protected lives, saved lives, restored lives, and enriched lives, including mine. I was very sorry to learn of his passing.

Jim Rooks (ATLA, AAJ, Pound Institute)

Marie Williams

October 18, 2020

We are most grateful for the hard work of Mr.Cohen. Your work made our marriage possible. My prayer is that subsequent generations never take for granted their freedoms and are always cognizant that forebears like Mr. Cohen and the Lovings sacrificed, struggled, and fought for what they easily enjoy. Our heartfelt condolences to the Cohen family.

Kevin Scruggs

October 17, 2020

To Mr Cohen and the Cohen family,
Thank you. Mr Cohen’s life and career meant so much to so many. Loving might seem inevitable now, but it wasn’t. The gratitude that so many of us have for Mr Cohen’s fight can never be repaid.
Thank you.

David Brickley

October 17, 2020

I had the honor of serving with Bernie in the Virginia House of Delegates for many years. Besides being such a kind and thoughtful person, he was a gallant warrior for the rights of all Americans. In this time of rising tempers and discord, his love of our Constitution and our Commonwealth will be solely missed. Bernie was one of a kind and I am so proud to have known him.
David Brickley

judd vitt

October 17, 2020

2. Bernie was willing to have us take cases outside our comfort zone - we represented prisoners in solitary confinement, citizen groups who wanted to stop the highway department from knocking down 30 homes, flight attendants who did not want to lose their jobs when they got pregnant, and the list can go on. We took important cases and Governor Northam got it right when he said, Bernie's work made the State's air cleaner and the laws fairer and more loving.

3. Bernie treated everyone in the office as if they were part of a family. It was fun to come to work. I have eight employees and I hope that I have followed Bernie's lead in how I treat them.

Bernie was as kind a man as I have every met. Upon learning of his death, I wrote to my children about what having him as a mentor and friend had meant to me. My youngest son wrote: "I am thankful you have been shaped by such a man, it's a great legacy to carry on."

All my best,
Geoffrey

Geoffrey Vitt

October 17, 2020

Rae, Bennett, and Karen

I have been thinking a lot about Bernie since Thursday. I thought that I would share with you my experience in working with Bernie for about 10 years.

In 1970, I had just started my second year of law school when I asked the head of the Environmental Law Program at GW Law School if he knew of anyone who might be interested in a volunteer law clerk. He said, "there's a guy in Alexandria who is supposed to be pretty good. Why don't you call him?" He gave me Bernie's number and I reached him right away. After I told him who I was, he said, "I can't talk now. There is an environmental crisis in New Jersey and I will have to call you back." I thought - sure, I will get a call back, but later that day, Bernie called and invited me to come for an interview at the office on Royal Street in Old Town. As an aside, the environmental crisis ended up being Izaak Walton League v. Tito Machia which Bernie and I tried in federal court about four years later.

At the time, I had a car that I received upon my father's death and I told Bernie that I could work at pretty much whatever time worked for him. He gave me a few assignments and I guess he thought that I was ok and after a few months, he decided that I would be paid. I threw myself into the practice and I spent pretty much all my free time at the office. Upon graduation from law school, Bernie said that I would be paid a lawyer's salary even though I had not passed the bar ($15,000 which at the time I thought was more money than I could possible need). As you know, after about two years Bernie made me his partner.

A few things about our practice:

1. I do not remember once having Bernie ask, "how are we going to get paid?" The focus was always, "does this person or group have a worthwhile case."

I think that I am at end of the space provided; I will send another message using "Judd Vitt"

Robert Ritter

October 16, 2020

On behalf of the alumni of the Norther Virginia Law School, I wish to thank our beloved friend Bernie for his successful four-year effort in passing a bill that allowed us to sit for the Virginia bar exam. Your support was one of the keys to our achieving our dreams. Thank you so much. / Bob Ritter, NVLS, 1986; VA bar, 1989.

Michelle Martin

October 16, 2020

I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cohen but there is not a day that goes by that I do not thank him for his tireless efforts that culminated with the Loving v. VA ruling. Were it not for Mr. Cohen’s dedication to preserving equality and justice it is possible that I could not have married my husband. To the entire Cohen family I send you my deepest, heartfelt, and sincerest condolences at this difficult time. My heart aches for you all and I send you love, light, and wishes for peace and healing.

FROM THE FAMILY

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