Albert Norman Cohen, a former Newsday editor known for his sense of humor and knack for making his colleagues’ stories better, died Aug. 31.
Cohen was 82 and had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer about five years ago, said his wife of 47 years, Della Cohen.
Being a newsman defined Cohen, his wife said.
“He was very well-liked and very well respected on the job,” Cohen, 78, said.
Born Nov. 23, 1934, to Mary and Irving Cohen, Cohen grew up in the East New York section of Brooklyn with his sister, Doris. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and attended some classes at The City College of New York.Cohen got his start in journalism as a copy boy at the New York Herald Tribune at age 18 or 19, his wife said. He eventually worked for Pulitzer-Prize-winning theater critic Walter Kerr, which allowed him to get free theater tickets. He left the Tribune after about 14 years when it folded in 1966 and “was kind of a lost soul for a while,” she said.
“Secretly, he did really want to be a sports reporter, but that didn’t work out,” she said.
Cohen was working as a reporter for the Seafarers Union in Brooklyn when met his wife on June 20, 1969, she said. The pair was introduced at popular publishing hangout The Lion’s Head by a mutual friend.
“It was kind of love at first sight,” said Cohen, who used to work in educational publishing and mass marketing. “The chemistry was there.”
The couple married in 1970, the same year Cohen began working at Newsday.
Over Cohen’s 25 years with Newsday, he worked as an editor in the Garden City and Melville offices before transitioning to working for New York Newsday in its Manhattan and Brooklyn offices, his nephew Andrew Kirtzman said.
Paul Moses, who left Newsday in 2001, said Cohen was the Bayside editor when they first worked together in the Brooklyn bureau. Cohen was popular with his colleagues and known to be both wise and funny.
“He was on the reporters’ side. He made your stories better and he just did a good job with it,” Moses said. “He had a huge amount of experience. He just knew what to do all the time.”
Cohen retired from Newsday in 1995, the year New York Newsday closed.
“He was always had a journalist point of view, in that he was always quite objective, sometimes to the point of being a curmudgeon,” Cohen said. “He was called a curmudgeon many times.”
Upon retiring, Cohen and his wife traveled extensively, including trips to Africa and China, and spent time with friends. He also volunteered for a foundation for the blind.
He did not have many hobbies other than following sports, his wife said. The cerebral palsy he was born with limited his physical activity.
“People who know him know he had a limp and was only able to really use his left hand to do typing,” she said. “It didn’t stop him.”
The couple sold their home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, about two years ago and moved to Ditmas Park in the borough.
In addition to his wife, Cohen is survived by daughter, Lisabeth Cohen of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, son Jeremy Cohen of Astoria, Queens, and a granddaughter.
Albert Cohen, who had requested that no funeral be held, was cremated. His wife will honor his life with a private event with friends and family at her apartment.