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Esther Cohen dies; longtime Bay Shore fitness icon was 99

Esther Cohen, a Long Island fitness icon,

Esther Cohen, a Long Island fitness icon, worked out long into her golden years and turned 99 on April 6, 2016. A longtime Bay Shore resident, she died May 10 of cardiovascular complications. Credit: Cohen Family

Esther Cohen could never stay still.

The longtime Bay Shore resident and former seamstress bucked the norm for senior citizens by staying active socially and famously working out at a rigorous pace several days a week in local gyms for decades during her golden years.

“She was much more active, much more coherent,” than the average person in their 90s, said Jeffrey M. Nakhjavan, a West Babylon-based doctor who treated Cohen for 15 years.

Cohen died May 10 of cardiovascular complications at the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Babylon. She was 99.

Nakhjavan remembered his former patient as a “vibrant” woman who was funny and likable. He laughed as he recalled her ritual of kissing him on the cheek after every doctor’s visit.

“She lived life like it was a purpose,” he said.

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on April 6, 1917, Cohen moved to the Bronx when she was 15. She did not complete high school, her family said.

She and her husband, Abe Cohen, were inseparable after meeting at a party in the Bronx in 1934. After he proposed to her by singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” they married Nov. 8, 1936.

According to her son Jack Cohen, 77, of Bay Shore, his mother started exercising at the behest of, Abe, her husband of 72 years and an electrician who started working out at local gyms following his retirement in 1976. The pair became beloved at their local gym and community for their devotion to exercise during their senior years.

Jack Cohen said that when he was growing up in the Bronx and the Electchester housing complex in Queens, the Cohens were tight-knit. The family of four, including his brother Martin, 69, of Kew Gardens, Queens, visited parks in the Bronx, went on outings to Coney Island, Radio City Music Hall and other places.

“They treated me and my brother good; they didn’t have much, but they treated us real good,” Jack Cohen said.

Spending time with her husband helped Esther Cohen remain active and engaged for years. The couple exercised for years at the same Bay Shore gym, now known as Bay Shore Super Sport.

When Abe died in July 2009, Esther was heartbroken, barely leaving the house for three months afterward. However, Jack said, friends and family finally persuaded her to return to the gym, and she started slowly before returning to her normal three-day-a-week schedule.

After Esther’s death, Jack said he received compliments and calls from old friends of his mother, telling them how much his collection of 47 scrapbooks of his mother and father means to them.

In addition to her sons, Esther Cohen is survived by three grandsons and three great-grandchildren.

Services were held May 12 at I.J. Morris funeral home in Dix Hills with burial at Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Mount Sinai.


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