"Mickey" Maxwell Cohen, born in Brooklyn’s Borough Park in
New York, passed away in Beverly, Massachusetts on December
28, 2021. He was 94 years old.
As a youngster, Mickey developed an interest in wildlife. His
mother admonished him for using her favorite pot to prepare an
animal skeleton for a school project. The family still has the
skeleton and the pot.
Mickey met Barbara, the love of his life, as summer camp
counselors. Married for 69 years, they were best friends and
shared many interests.
An educator, naturalist, environmentalist, civil rights activist and
intellectual, Mickey was also expert in antique restoration,
ornithology, marine life, and foraging wild foods.
After WWII, Mickey was an Army aircraft welder in Japan. As a
favor to General and Mrs. Douglas MacArthur, he welded a
custom-designed double cot. At the end of Mickey’s tour,
MacArthur showed his gratitude by arranging a return flight home
for Mickey, rather than a long troop ship voyage.
Upon discharge, Mickey became a passionate teacher of English,
math, physics, and biology in the NYC school system. A National
Science Foundation Institute on marine biology inspired his
courses at Far Rockaway High School and his vision for Beach
Channel High School’s concept of integrating oceanography into
every subject. Mickey served as Assistant Principal and Chair of
Science and Oceanography, was named National Association of
Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher, NY State Biology
Teacher of the Year, and won the NY State Marine Educators
Presidential Award, Founders Award, Kinghan Service Award and
Science Council of NYC Resnick Memorial Presidential Award.
Later he taught at the New School for Social Research and
After retirement, Mickey led dozens of trips to the Galapagos
Islands and East Africa. Leading hundreds of American Littoral
Society field trips in NY and other Northeast beaches earned him
and Barbara the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mickey lectured on
global warming years before it became a household concern. He
was a collector of Currier and Ives prints, and used them to
create lectures on whaling, natural history and social issues. He
was an antique radio buff and became fluent in Morse Code just
for the challenge of learning a dying art.
After 60 years living on the shores of Jamaica Bay in Far
Rockaway, Mickey and Barbara moved to Manhattan, blocks
from the American Museum of Natural History, where he and
Barbara became volunteers. Mickey often spoke of his first visit
to the museum in the 1930s on a grade school field trip, when his
teacher pointed out fossils embedded in the steps of the Grand
Staircase. He later found great joy in introducing the Museum to
his young sons, Andy and Brad. Nobody was surprised when
Mickey was named Docent of the Year for his volunteer
interpretive work. He was especially proud when a close friend
donated a seat with his name and Barbara’s on a plaque in the
In 2020, Mickey and Barbara left New York City for Beverly,
Massachusetts, to be close to family.
Mickey fulfilled a lifetime desire to support science and research.
He continued that quest just yesterday, by donating his body to
the Anatomical Gift Program at Harvard Medical School.
Mickey is survived by his wife of 69 years, Barbara, children
Bradley and Andy (Gerri), and grandchildren Jackie and
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to
the American Littoral Society, in Mickey’s memory. https://
Please write “NE Chapter in Memory of Mickey Cohen” in the
Barbara can be reached at 105 Cherry Hill Drive, Cottage 15,
Beverly MA 01915
A celebration of life, via ZOOM will be scheduled.