in memory of Harvey Cohn
Below are some of the testimonials for Harvey. Harvey was constantly experimenting, trying new things, and his forays took him into radio hosting with his good friend Dan Gewertz, whose words are below. His show was renowned for the diversity of musical styles it covered. A lifelong artist, he was constantly drawing, sketching and painting, where his gift for bold colors was evident. Interspersed on this page are samples of his artwork.
For Harvey from Dan, Late December, 2020
The voice of reason.
A sense of humor, and a sense of proportion.
A natural sense of responsibility.
You were so good with Sharon, of course, but I could also see your goodness and your sense of doing right with a less straight-forward situation, with your father in his last years.
You are a good man, and I have a hard time even now putting things in the past tense. You were a good friend, and you are one, too. I always sensed a wisdom coming from you, with no trace of pretension, because you were never coming across as "the expert" but as someone trying to come up with the ways to live life and think of life day to day; never thinking you were the philosopher, or assuming what works for you necessarily works for others. Gentle unassuming wisdom, I guess I might call it.
You made a difference in people's lives, not only with your kindness, but with your calm spirit: with your steady presence, even when you might not have felt steady yourself. Which, when you add all that up, is an ability to love. A true gift for it.
David's eulogy
Quite a while ago I remember Harvey asking "what have I really done with my life?" And while at that moment his concern was with his architectural achievements, the sentiment stuck with me, and got me thinking about the question of legacy beyond the merely professional. But in both, I think Harvey should be proud.
From childhood, he was always an experimenter, trying out new pursuits with enthusiasm. He took up "ham" radio when very young, trawling the late-night shortwave bands seeking insurgent foreign broadcasts. That curiosity about the wider world remained, moving on in college to become a producer and newscaster at WTBS with his very good friend Dan Gewertz.
His lifelong interest in all forms of music led him to co-host an eclectic music show, "The Thursday Afternoon Joint", with Dan, and then his own, "Freestyle". Yet still restless, he also spent nights driving a taxi through the perilous streets of Boston.
He was an explorer as well. After my freshman year, Harvey invited me on a cross- country trip in our klunky old Ford station wagon. We headed out for a San Francisco not yet gentrified: I remember eating pizza in the Haight, when a vagrant wandered in to ask for, not one, but two slices of pizza. Asked why, he gazed around a bit bemusedly, then answered, "one for me. And one for my dog outside." Having dallied a bit too long in San Francisco, we had to race back, one of us sleeping in the "way back" while the other drove. About the only lengthy stop I remember on that return trip was for a middle-of-the-night, drive-through court house in Missouri to pay for a speeding ticket.
Venturesome still, after graduation Harvey donned his backpack for six months travel through Europe. While returning brought the need to start practicing, he still desired to explore new places: first moving to Texas with his closest friend Chuck Patrick, then to San Francisco to try West Coast life. Needing to touch all corners of the country, he ended up in Michigan for graduate school, before returning to New York to settle into his career.
Throughout all his pursuits and all stages of his life, Harvey's earnestness and sincerity was apparent. Wherever he went — here or abroad — he not only met friends but, what is rarer, kept up close contact with them. All remember him as caring, modest and wise, as a stalwart friend.
He took responsibility seriously, caring lovingly for his wife Sharon. As oldest brother, he held the family together, managing our Dad's affairs when he no longer could, and eventually taking over our childhood homestead, and his beloved upstate residence, February Hill.
And as for his architectural practice, in New York with Richard Dattner or Ehrenkranz, or after hanging out his own shingle, his career encompassed buildings commercial, public, religious and residential. But he got the most satisfaction out of designing residential homes for his friends — like Randi's upstate home.
Above all, Harvey was a searcher, seeking intellectual and spiritual breadth as well. He combined the reasoned and scientific with his passion for wide-ranging spiritual thought — from the engineering bent of his MIT education, to evening courses in Heidegger (although these, perhaps, a bit blurred by a few accompanying joints), to many years spent reading the Zohar. That, incidentally, along with John Milton, were his final readings.
So in answer that long-ago question, what he'd accomplished, the answer is so much broader and deeper than most. He has made space for steadfast responsibility, created spaces of comfort and beauty for many, and kept a communal space of good and loving friends and family throughout. And as my brother, he had a particularly large space in my life. Whether or not he built that single Hagia Sofia, his life was meaningful and valuable, to so many. His passing leaves those spaces still among us, although sadly, also with a looming, empty space.

Rabbi Amy Ruth Bolton, for ​Chaim Yitzchak ben Yehuda Aryeh v’Rut
“A Spiritual Counselor. Great, I’ve been looking forward to speaking with a Spiritual Counselor!”
These were among the first words Harvey said to me during our long phone conversation when he was on our hospice program. Not usually the first or even any words someone says to me! I knew then that I was speaking with a uniquely deep, thoughtful, meaning-seeking person. He shared with me how he has “always been on a spiritual quest” continually searching for true, authentic meaning. In his lifelong quest, Harvey recounted how he has explored many faith and spiritual traditions, but that especially recently, he has come back to his Jewish roots. Finding inspiration in his own faith tradition was important to him - he said he had been studying the Zohar of late, the seminal work of Jewish mysticism. And, he wanted to make sure a rabbi would officiate at his funeral, a request I am humbled and honored to fulfill today.
The word “Spiritual” is difficult to define. It describes matters relating to deep feelings and beliefs; matters of the soul or spirit; meaning making...
All of these definitions fit what I saw of Harvey during our too brief encounter. He was self-reflective, genuine, contemplative, and very open and connective with me, someone he had never met before. In your words David, he was always searching for growth and meaning, and this remained true to the end of his life. Sharon I love your description of Harvey as “really evolved.”
I only met Harvey a couple of times over the phone, and so it was wonderful to get to know a little bit more about him through our conversations this week. Some of the words that kept coming up as you described Harvey are
Generous, responsible, earnest. Kind, caring.
Harvey truly cared about others. David you described him to as someone who listened fully to you when you were speaking with him, with full heart and attention,. “He made each person feel they were important.” What is so beautiful about this trait that Harvey showed with so many, is that the word “Listen/​Shema​” is found in our most fundamental Jewish prayer, called the ​Shema​.
Shema​ Yisrael - LISTEN Israel,the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” This prayer calls upon us to listen, not just to hear - to actively contemplate and internalize. Harvey’s care for others also shone through in how he was a devoted caregiver - for you Sharon, and for his father of blessed memory. Responsibility it seems was bred from an early age as the oldest of the siblings. Sharon you shared that in many ways, Harvey often took better care of others than himself. Yet in his final weeks, he did get to that point. He fulfilled his last wish that he expressed to me, to embrace his final weeks enjoying nature and music and solitude in his childhood home. He finally took care of himself, as he well deserved.
The legendary author of the Zohar, one of the spiritual texts which Harvey connected with and one of the last he studied, was a great sage named Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There are countless teachings attributed to him, but one that I have kept coming back to in thinking about Harvey is the following:
Had a single Jew, [a single person], been missing at Mount Sinai, the Divine revelation could not have occurred. Everyone has his or her own unique connection to God’s Teachings. If even one Jew, one person, is not studying these teachings, then the teachings will not be complete.
From what I’ve learned about him, this quote connects to Harvey in two ways. First, he cared about people, listened wholeheartedly to each individual. In doing so, he honored and brought out each person’s unique humanity, Second, it is clear that Harvey himself had - and I believe, on a soul level, still has - a special connection to God. He was committed throughout his life to his search for greater meaning and connection. He strove to grow and improve himself by studying and following a variety of spiritual teachings, thus helping in his unique way to complete them. Harvey’s legacy and contributions will always live on, not only in the structures he designed and built, but most importantly, though the relationships he forged and the kindness and generosity he sprinkled throughout the world.
Yehi zichro barukh​ ​- May Harvey’s memory always be for a blessing. I pray that all of the love you each have shared with him will continue​ to inspire and strengthen you, and all who were privileged to know and love him.

Tevet 5781