In Memoriam: Zachary Cohen (1949–2021)

November 1, 2021

Our friend Zachary Cohen died on October 7 while at hospice near his home on Long Island. He was 72 and had been ill with glioblastoma for more than two years. Zachary shared his story and was featured in a video produced by Compassion & Choices earlier this year after he wrote to his Assemblyman Fried Thiele, who is a cosponsor of the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act.

Zachary wrote this poem, sent to me around the time we met:

Autumn’s First Cold Day

Grisaille coats the room like milk spilt on stone
but turn your gaze from Yeats to the farm:
autumn’s rain enters the unstained clapboard,
ruddy beneath thin black rot, and rabbits
lunch freely in the squash patch. Maple wings
twirl into the weeded bed you prepared
for tulips and daffodils. Get Up!
Rake. Chase. Stain. Nature decides enough.

Zachary’s obituary appears in The East Hampton Star:

Lewis Zachary Cohen was born in Miami Beach on June 28, 1949, to Wolfie Cohen and the former Miriam Goldhaber. As a child he was expected to work in the family’s restaurant business, but he wanted to be a mathematician and live in New England. As soon as he graduated from Miami Beach High, he headed north.

He met his future wife, Pamela Bicket, while they were undergraduates at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., and they spent the next 50 years together…

Ms. Bicket said, “to his friends Zach was a poet, a bike racer, a pianist, a baker, a cat lover, and an artist. In public he was seen as someone who could be trusted to solve problems. He found all people vastly interesting and took pride in working well with others. Tenacious and sometimes stubborn, he always fought for those who he believed were overlooked or underserved.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a sister, Robin Sherwood of Bronxville. A private burial took place at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton on Oct. 10.

A fourth advocate in the last six months has died. How many people suffering until their final breath will it take before New York lawmakers pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act?

We believe that New Yorkers should have the same comprehensive end-of-life care options that 1 in 5 people living in the United States now have, including our neighbors in New Jersey and Vermont. Sign our petition to tell Governor Kathy Hochul that medical aid in dying should be authorized in NY without delay.

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