Howard A. Cohen, former presidential aide and Pennsylvania revenue secretary, dies at 81


Howard A. Cohen, 81, of Philadelphia, former aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, former Pennsylvania revenue secretary, administrator and assistant professor at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, and longtime Jewish leader date, died on Saturday, May 21. , by accidental drowning while fishing in Stroud Township, Monroe County.

Mr. Cohen was associate dean for development and external relations at the Fox School of Business at Temple in the 1990s and 2000s and helped raise funds for the renovation of its buildings in 2018. He has also taught courses human resources management, business ethics and negotiation for the school, and was due to be in class this fall.

A natural communicator, mediator and facilitator, he served as a consultant, board treasurer, and then executive director of the Dialogue Institute, a Temple-based group that promotes “respectful dialogue and critical thinking” among world leaders. In 2017, Cohen said his role at the institute was to apply “the intellectual endeavors of the university to segments of our society where dialogue is needed now more than at any time since the 1940s”.

Prior to Temple in the early 1970s, Mr. Cohen was an adjunct professor at Penn, chairman of the public management unit at the Wharton School, and a teacher at the Fels Institute of Government.

In the mid-1970s, he served in the administration’s personnel and public liaison offices under Presidents Nixon and Ford. In 1979, at age 37, he was appointed Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Revenue under Governor Dick Thornburgh.

He was previously a congressman and worked with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and other notable government officials. Mr. Cohen later served on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s public-private partnership.

“He believed the government had an important role to play and he wanted to be part of that role,” his daughter Sarah said.

He was an executive for several companies, including ARA Services of Philadelphia and CEP Industries in Gloucester Township in the 1980s. He also ran his own management and public policy consulting firm.

An outspoken Republican who has said that “the character of the candidate and the confidence that voters have in the candidate is as important as their position on particular issues”, Mr Cohen has written several opinion pieces for The Inquirer .

READ MORE: Mr. Cohen: Former President Ronald Reagan said it best when he proclaimed the 11th Commandment: “You shall not speak ill of another Republican.”

“Instead of running to President Trump, Pennsylvania Republicans need to heed the everyday lives of voters and understand that their party is not a debating society,” he wrote last November. “They have to do their main job: nominate thoughtful candidates who can win in the general election.”

In May, Cohen told Harrisburg-based Patriot-News columnist John Baer, ​​“When I hear Senate candidates say, ‘I’m going to fight for Pennsylvania,’ I don’t know what that means. The Senate is not a place of combat. It’s a place of collegiality, a place to get things done.

His daughter said: “He was truly a man of integrity.”

READ MORE: Mr. Cohen: In today’s interconnected world, the United States must provide global leadership.

Active in his religious community, Mr. Cohen was a former president of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the Washington-based Republican Jewish Coalition. He also served as vice president and CEO of ORT America, a New York-based Jewish support organization, and Operation Independence, an international initiative to grow Israel’s economy. He was a longtime member of Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley and past president of its men’s club.

“The moral component and community of Judaism was meaningful to him,” his daughter said.

Born February 10, 1941, in Newark, NJ, Mr. Cohen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a law degree from Rutgers University. He earned a master’s degree in international trade and transportation from George Washington University.

After a divorce, he met Barbara Weinstein in Washington, and they married in 1972 and had son David and daughter Sarah. They lived for years in Bala Cynwyd and moved to Philadelphia five years ago.

Mr Cohen was an avid fisherman, had a huge library and leaned into books on history, religion and politics. He had a sharp memory and often carried index cards to take notes on important things he wanted to review. He was close to his family, always asking for their opinions and why they held them.

“He was always there for us no matter what,” his daughter said. “He believed that nothing should hold you back.”

In an online tribute, a friend said: “He was a wonderful human.”

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Cohen is survived by two grandchildren, a sister and other relatives.

Services were May 25.

Donations in his name may be made to the American Jewish Committee Philadelphia Chapter, Mail Code: 6760, PO Box 7247, Philadelphia, Pa. 19170, and Chapter 289 of Trout Unlimited, PO Box 661, Tannersville, Pa. 18372.


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