Leon Cookie Cohen

Obituary in Seattle Times

Leon 'Cookie' COHEN Passed away peacefully at home on June 22nd. He was born in Havre, Montana, December 15, 1917 to Dora and Harry Cohen. Cookie grew up and spent most of his life, in Seattle, graduating from Garfield High School. He served overseas in the military and had fond memories of his time there. He was always with a story or joke that he loved to share. After many years of owning his own businesses, he went to work at the Pike Place Market where he worked at Pure Food Fish for many years until his retirement. He loved the market, all its people and the countless number of friends he made during his lifetime. Survived by his wife, Mary, his daughter Doreen (Joseph) Alhadeff, grandchildren Loren and Mitchell Alhadeff, Faye Bearman, Marci and Sam Hammer, Alana Prehogan, Jared and Melanie Sanderson, Isaac and Ellie Piha, and Joseph, Matthew and Daniel Lipsen, stepchildren Claire (Charl) Hammer, Estelle (Phil)Sanderson, Leonard (Cindy) Piha, Maureen (Jeff) Lipsen and their families. Also survived by his brother Louis Cohen, numerous sisters and brothers in law as well as nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by his first wife, Tillie Menashe Cohen and his daughter Kathleen V. Cohen. The funeral will be held on Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 2PM at Evergreen Washelli in Seattle. Donations may be made in his memory to Medic One Foundation, 325 9th Ave., mailstop 35974, Seattle 98104 or NW Parkinson Foundation, 400 Mercer Street Ste 401, Seattle, Wa 98109

Eulogy for Leon ‘Cookie’ Cohen
By Hazzan Isaac Azose
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Evergreen Washelli, Seattle, Washington

Daughter Doreen Granddaughter Grandsons

Leon ‘Cookie’ Cohen passed away two days ago, on Tuesday, at the age of 92. He was born in Havre, Montana on December 15, 1917 to Asher ‘Harry’ Cohen and Dora Levy Cohen. Cookie was the only one of the siblings who was born outside of Seattle. Why was he born in Havre, Montana? Because his father worked for the railroad and was sent there for a time. The family was back in Seattle before Cookie was a year old. Joe Alhadeff tells me that he was the only one of the family that ever visited Havre, Montana.

Cookie graduated from Garfield High School in the late 30’s. He was drafted into the Army during World War II and ultimately served in the Army Air Corps. He served on Tinian island, in the Mariana Islands Group of the western Pacific Ocean. During World War II, U.S. forces invaded Tinian on July 23, 1944, and brought the island under American control within a week. Tinian then became a powerful base for air operations against the Japanese home islands, and actually was the base from which the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Cookie was married to Tillie Menashe of Portland in September, 1949. The marriage took place at the Washington Hotel and they were married by Rabbi Isidore Kahan and Reverend David Behar. They had two daughters, Doreen Kaden, and Kathleen Victoria. Kathleen was given the middle name of Victoria after a Victoria Hasson with whom Cookie had lived for a time in Los Angeles after the war.

Cookie himself was involved in several ventures, some on his own or with a partner, and some working for other people. One of his ventures was the Friendly Market in Greenwood, then Cook’s Super in Ballard, followed by a tavern on Broadway in partnership with Jeff Israel, which was called the 206 Tavern, because it was located at 206 Broadway. While on Broadway, he had many other friends who owned or ran businesses there, such as, Mannings, Neeso Cohen’s Winters Tuxedos, Al Benaltabe’s Shoe Repair Shop, even Mary’s first husband, Ike Piha, may he rest in peace, owned a Deli there, and Joe Alhadeff’s father Sam owned a Fish Market. Lee Angel and Bob Franco owned a Produce Market and Cookie actually worked for them when they moved to Madison Park. In later years, he worked for Sol Amon at Pure Foods Fish in the Pike Place Market.

Cookie and Tillie loved to travel, having been to Europe and South America, including Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Cookie loved most sports, such as football, baseball and basketball. He also loved to play poker once a week with friends and loved to play solitaire on the computer. When he was young, he would play golf in the summer and ski in the winter. On Sundays, during golf season, he wasn’t available until about 2pm. He was always very easy-going but a disciplinarian. He never got upset. If he had something to say, he’d come right out with it, never beat about the bush. He was always telling jokes and Doreen recalls that, as Cookie grew older, the jokes somehow became more risqué.

Cookie was, by no means, a religious person. He nevertheless insisted on having family meals together every Friday night. Speaking about being religious, I recall many a time at Ezra Bessaroth when we would be short one man for minyan during morning services, without whom we couldn’t say kaddish. I would run over next door to their home and Cookie very obligingly would come over to help out.

Tillie passed away in March of 1981. They had been married almost 32 years. On Independence Day, of 1982, Cookie and Mary tied the knot. His wanderlust hadn’t stopped after Tillie had passed away. Cookie and Mary enjoyed several trips and cruises together, including cruises to the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, the Mediterranean and Alaska. Additionally, they have been to Spain, Montreal, Penticton, as well as to Georgia, Los Angeles, the New England States, Arizona and Florida.

Cookie loved dogs. The Cohens had two Great Danes in the family. Dora Cohen had a Pomeranian who scared the heck out of the two Great Danes.

Speaking about Dora, at this point, I’d like to digress for a couple of minutes. I realize this should be all about Cookie, but I just found out some really interesting facts about his mother, Dora. I was asked to speak at a convention of the Association of Jewish Libraries, which takes place here in Seattle at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel during the first week of July. They asked me to speak on the Sephardic Community of Seattle. In doing my research, I used as a primary source of information, a book called Family of Strangers – Building a Jewish community in Washington State. In one of the chapters, I read that, by 1906 there were 18 Sepharadim in Seattle - 17 bachelors and Dora Levy, the first young Sephardic woman to arrive. The arrival of 18-year-old Dora Levy bewildered Rabbi Hirsch Genss, who was looking after the Sepharadim. Muttering in Yiddish to his wife, Rabbi Genss wondered what they were going to do with a young Sephardic girl among all those Sephardic men. Dora listened to the rabbi speaking to his wife and, speaking in a Yiddish that was as clear as Rabbi Genss's, Dora interrupted. She wanted to get a job, she said. She had no intention of depending on other Sepharadim, and she planned to live in a hotel until she could find a permanent residence. The Rabbi and his wife listened to the flood of Yiddish in astonishment. "Here is a Yidenah!" the rabbi said in delight. I assume he meant ‘here is a Jewish woman who speaks Yiddish’. Dora’s knowledge of Yiddish was certainly unusual for a Sephardic Jew. Born in Istanbul, Dora received her education at the Scotch missionary school, where she learned English, French, German, history, mathematics, geography, and literature. She knew Spanish because it was spoken at home, and Turkish since it was the native language. The Yiddish she picked up from her family’s Ashkenazic neighbors.

In Seattle, the Sephardic Yidenah soon proved her worth. She had no trouble finding work, and when the other Sephardic women came to Seattle, she was their lifeline, acting as an interpreter because none of them could speak either English or Yiddish. In 1910, Dorah Levy became Mrs. Asher Cohen.

Cookie is survived by his wife Mary, to whom he was married for almost 28 years, his daughter Doreen, and brother Lou.