Remembering Dorothy Cohen

Former mayor and longtime contributor to the city passed away January 20, 2018.

Dorothy Mahoney Cohen, a former South Pasadena mayor and 55-year-resident of South Pasadena, passed away January 20, 2018.

Cohen, 92, served nine years on the City Council from 1994 to 2003.

Cohen was active in many civic organizations, serving as president of the Library Board of Trustees, as president of the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and co-founder in 1982 of the Friends’ Bookstore. Recently she was honored along with the “Fabulous Four” Founders of the Friends of South Pasadena Public Library Bookstore with a new bronze plaque on the wall just outside of the bookstore on the second floor of the Library.

- Advertisement -

She received many awards and certificates of recognition, including the prestigious President’s Award from the California Library Association, designation as Outstanding Volunteer from the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners, the 29th Congressional District Woman of the Year award, the Los Angeles County Commendation for Dedicated Service.

Cohen supported the  “No on 710” freeway extension effort and testified before the Senate and Assembly transportation committees.

Cohen and her late husband, Jerry, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, had three children. A son, William, passed away in 1993. Survivors include daughters Jamey (John) and grandsons Liam and Gavin Allman, and Cassy (David) and grandson Jake Muronaka.

Here is what some in the community said about Cohen’s passing:

Steve Fjeldsted, Library Director

With Dorothy Cohen’s passing, South Pasadena certainly lost one of its best and brightest.

For more than 50 years, Dorothy contributed so much to the civic, educational, and cultural life of the community. Through the decades, she ably and selflessly served in so many important library capacities with the Board of Trustees and the Friends group.

More than 35 years ago, along with Sally Swan, Bev Engler, and Margaret Wallace, Dorothy started the ‘all volunteer’ Friends of the Library Bookstore that has raised more than $1 million for the institution. The Friends Bookstore will continue to run smoothly, but the loss of Dorothy marks the end of an era. In many significant ways, Dorothy was the matriarch of the library family. So many of her contributions will help many current and future generations of library users.

Henk Friezer, Longtime photographer in the community.

There are few unique people who make a lasting impression in people’s lives. Dorothy Cohen was one of these people. I met Dorothy working for the now defunct South Pasadena Journal, when she was writing press releases for clients and submitting them to newspapers. Later I had the pleasure of working with her when she did press releases and published a monthly publication for the South Pasadena school district and used my photography. Her husband Jerry was a well-known journalist at the Los Angeles times. Dorothy’s involvement in the community became a well-known fact. She was one of the key people in the friends of the library, and library related activities. Her community involvement and popularity led to her being elected to the city Council.  One of Dorothy’s most memorable moments was when she was selected as citizen of the year for the city’s annual 4th of July parade, she loved it as she rode down Mission  waving to her adoring fans. Dorothy is one of the few people I’ve ever met who did not have any enemies or foes. She was extremely charismatic and cordial, but could be very assertive if the occasion arose. Like everyone else who knew her I too will miss her tremendously. I also hope that an area of the library will bear her name so future generations will be able remember the contributions she made to the community she called home. I, for one will cherish having known her and will always fondly remember her.

Dr. Marina Khubesrian, City Council member

I first met Dorothy Cohen during my first campaign for city council in the Fall of 2011 to ask for her endorsement. We spent more than  2 hours talking. She wisely advised me about the responsibility and time commitment involved in being a city councilmember and said to make sure I had my family’s full support. She described her experience on the council and as mayor in 2003 and felt that her perspective and more cooperative but no-nonsense leadership style was much appreciated on a historically all male council.  I will always cherish her wisdom and support and be honored to have had her endorsement.  May she Rest In Peace.

Diane Mahmud, City Council member

I was greatly saddened to hear of her passing. Shortly after I was elected (to the City Council) she came to my home to give me copies of drawings for a remodeled library. I only recently forwarded them to the Library Board of Trustees and our library director (Steve Feldsted) aas we were discussing future plans for the library. For some reason the city was unable to locate the plans and I was so pleased to be able to forward them to the city when the subject came up. Dorothy would have been very pleased. I was looking forward to the opportunity to tell her.

She was a true gem for our city and especially its library, an excellent example of the difference on can make in our community – with a lot of hard work.

Note to our readers: A special thank you to South Pasadena Library Director Steve Fjeldsted for passing along the background about Dorothy Cohen, who contributed so heavily to the City of South Pasadena over the years. We’d like to hear your thoughts about Dorothy below.

Cohen’s daughters, Cassy Muronaka and Jamey Cohen, are inviting the community who wish to make a donation in memory of Dorothy Cohen to the Friends of South Pasadena Library organization to mail them to the Memorials and Endowments Chair of the South Pasadena Public Library, 1100 Oxley St. South Pasadena, CA 91030. Checks made out to Friends of the SPPL. Donation forms are also available at the Library at the Reference Desk. to donate online.