Randi Lynne (Shapiro) Cohen

February 18, 1943April 26, 2018

When asked how her career path had veered from early childhood education to a long career as a national advocate for animal welfare and rescue, Randi Lynne (Shapiro) Cohen would explain that children and animals both required patience and needed someone who would be their advocate.

She spent the first part of her career as a teacher, preferring to teach in an underserved school district in Lynn, before opening a travel agency in Salem, MA, with her husband Gerry Cohen. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Cohen started volunteering at Northeast Animal Shelter, helping her sister, Cindi Shapiro, who founded the Shelter in 1976. Mrs. Cohen took on a variety of responsibilities before eventually becoming Executive Director.

Mrs. Cohen passed away peacefully early Thursday morning of complications from a recently discovered heart condition. She was 75.

Mrs. Cohen was a graduate of Lasell College in Newton where she earned her degree in early childhood education before she attended and graduated from Syracuse University in New York. As a lifelong animal lover, Mrs. Cohen became a driving force at Northeast Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter that has rescued more than 130,000 dogs and cats and placed them in loving homes throughout New England.

She helped expand the Shelter’s national advocacy for rescuing homeless animals who were unwanted and under the threat of being euthanized. When she received an urgent appeal during the Hurricane Isaac evacuation in Florida, she welcomed dozens of homeless dogs and then issued her own local appeal to residents, urging them to adopt those animals. "We're in crisis mode and need families to save these dogs," she wrote on the Shelter’s website.

“Randi loved life,” said her brother Donald Shapiro, a director of the Shelter. “Most of all, she loved her family. She encouraged them to work hard and find their own road to success.”

Mr. Shapiro said his sister became even more involved in the Shelter when it was expanded to increase the shelter’s capacity to rescue animals. “She often worked well past dinner time,” said Mr. Shapiro. “As a persuasive and impassioned advocate of helping homeless animals, she became the face of Northeast Animal Shelter. She was delighted when people she didn’t know would recognize her on the street after reading one of her carefully written fundraising appeals or seeing her on TV.”

Her oldest son, Greg Cohen, said “She was a Mom of Moms - always there for her family. She was one of the great listeners, an angel to many people and tens of thousands of rescued animals. She touched everyone with her positive attitude, ever-present smile, and ability to never let obstacles stand in her way.”

Her son Scott said of his mother: “She was the sweetest, most caring, compassionate woman, leader, and matriarch, that anyone could ever ask for. Her kind words, positive attitude, and endless love were sprinkled everywhere and left an indelible mark on everyone who was fortunate enough to be in her presence. She will be forever missed, but forever remembered!"

One of Mrs. Cohen’s many friends said, “Randi had such a presence, and her compassion was evident. She was the engine that made Northeast Animal Shelter run.” Another friend said “Randi’s three sons, were everything to her, and her three grandchildren were the light of her life. She was happiest when surrounded by family.”

Mrs. Cohen is the third generation of the Shapiro family that founded Maryland Cup Corporation, a Fortune 500 company that produced disposable paper and plastic containers under the name “Sweetheart”, and ice cream cones under the name “Eat-It-All”.

Mrs. Cohen was predeceased by her loving husband, Gerald K. Cohen, her father, Samuel N. Shapiro, and her mothers, Mae Rita Shapiro and Bernice Shapiro. She is survived by her three beloved sons, Gregory and his wife Nancy (Einstein) of West Newton; Scott and his wife Dorian (Boomer) of Lincoln; and Michael and his fiancé, Adrian Frandle, of New York City; her brother Donald Shapiro and his wife Robin of Palm Beach Gardens, FL; her sister Cindi Shapiro and her husband, Bruce Munson, of Beverly, MA; her three grandchildren, Sydney Cohen, Jack Cohen, and Hunter Cohen; her seven nieces and nephews; and her eight grand-nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held on Monday, April 30 at 11:00am at Stanetsky-Hymanson Memorial Chapel, 10 Vinnin Street, Salem, MA. Burial will be private. Shiva will be observed on Monday April 30 from 1pm to 8pm and Tuesday May 1 from 4pm to 8pm at the family home.

She was a lifelong resident of Swampscott. Donations in her name can be made to Northeast Animal Shelter, 347 Highland Avenue, Salem, MA 01970 or online below.


  • Funeral Service Monday, April 30, 2018

Randi Lynne (Shapiro) Cohen

have a memory or condolence to add?

Marie Long

May 19, 2018

Many visits to NEAS..... Adopted my last cat Lily from NEAS.... the staff and facility are the best and Lily has given me so far 4 years of pure joy... Amazing place my prayers for Randi who did so much for all ... Many Prayers Marie

Jesse from_Medford

May 15, 2018

We got Jack August 26, 2011. He was a small 15 lb. black ShihTzu having arrived from Aiken, S. Carolina two days earlier and we felt lucky to have found him. On the drive home we discovered that Jack was very explosive and a big biter. How he made it through the rescue system I'll never know but he was the one for us. Randi or someone at NEAS made the decision that he deserved a chance to live. It took lots of compromise, patience and time (years) but we were able to convince him that not all humans were cruel. He lived a very full life , everyday a great adventure! Randi and staff, thank you so much for giving Jack a chance. We called him the happiest boy in the world.

Judy DiGennaro

May 11, 2018

Randi was an amazing woman! For the past 10 years the children in our Religious Education program have participated in a drive to support the Northeast Animal Shelter. When it was time for the children to deliver our collected items, Randi was always present, and ever so grateful for all that we brought to the shelter. Her tireless efforts and dedication to her animals were always very evident. Her letters and her email messages showed just how much she cared. Yes, she will be dearly missed, but surely her legacy will live on! We are grateful for having known her, and for the role model that she was for others. She has been an amazing example for so many. She made a choice to live out her deepest passions. For Randi, it was speaking out on behalf of those who had no voice, no words, those who needed most someone to advocate for them...her homeless animals! She loved them all! With our deepest gratitude for her blessed work!

Debbie Bullard

May 8, 2018

You were a Godsend to many animal and human.
The rainbow bridge has a new gatekeeper and we will see you again!

Gail Gilbert

May 8, 2018

Randi's dedication to an incredible shelter is her legacy. I had the privilege to speak with her and her dedication was incredible. She will surely be missed.

Kim Cordwell

May 8, 2018

Randi made me feel like a friend when corresponding about my love stories about my two puppies I adopted...she was truly inspiring and I was saddened to hear of her passing.. neas has certainly lost an angle and may all the animals she helped save hold a spot in their hearts as we will in my home..

Mary Ellen Goodsir

May 8, 2018

So sad to hear of Randi’s passing. She touched an incredible number of lives
and left such a loving legacy. I adopted my Sato, Flash from NEAS in 2001. I saved him and he saved me right back. We met Randi and her dog on the beach in Manchester one winter. She recognized Flash as a Sato and introduced herself. I burst into tears of gratitude! I kept thanking her and she turned it right back on me for rescueing. Flash. We lost Flash this winter after 17 years. I’m sure Randi was welcomed by a lot of wagging tails. ❤️🌈

Shelli (Michelle) Liberge

May 8, 2018

Although I never met Randi in person I am genuinely saddened by the news of her passing. I have been getting my pets from NEAS for 20+ years and some of the BEST most lovable cats I ever had were a result of your warm and caring shelter. Even when I'm not adopting a pet, I will stop by NEAS with donations and visit the animals. You can always sense the caring nature the shelter offers and the animals look "Happy" and hopeful that they will find their forever home. I am honored to have been a part of Randi's passion and love for animals and know that this legacy and devotion will continue to be the heart of NEAS. God Bless you all

Monica Trindade

May 8, 2018

I didn't know Randi personally but I was always touched by her outreach and diligence. May she RIP

Jaclyn Phillips

May 8, 2018

I will always remember Randi, for her upbeat personality as well as her love for animals. She and her family are in my prayers!