Passings: Judith Cohen

A field of flowers at sunset

Judith Loeb Cohen, a close and influential friend of York University, has passed away at the age of 80.

Judith Cohen, along with her husband, Marshall Cohen, were once recognized by The York University Magazine as the University’s “cheerleaders in chief” and for good reason – for over two decades she was a friend, frequent board member, event Chair, donor and more.

Judith Cohen
Judith Cohen

Cohen was introduced to York through her husband, who held the position of Chair of the York University Board of Governors for a decade. She quickly fell in love with the University. “York is such a treasure,” she said in a 2009 profile in The York University Magazine.

She and her husband created the Judith and Marshall Cohen Leadership Award for First Generation Students, which is granted to full-time, undergraduate students entering their second year who were the first members of their immediate family to pursue post-secondary education and demonstrated financial need. She also served on the Schulich School of Business non-profit advisory committee and chaired the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

A member of the family that founded the Loeb supermarket chain – acquired by Metro in 1999 – Cohen was not just a cheerleader for York. She was a champion of the arts, becoming the first woman to head a major arts organization in Canada, when she led the board of the National Ballet of Canada as president from 1987 to 1990.

She served as the founding Chair of the Invest in Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to strengthening parents’ knowledge and skills as they navigate raising their children. Through the foundation, she launched the annual Battle of the Brains gala fundraising event, which gathers funds to provide learning opportunities to children and continues to this day as one of the largest fundraisers for numerous charitable organizations.

She was board Chair of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada for many years and founded the annual Teddy Bear Affair fundraiser on its behalf, which supports families, children and youth whose lives have been involved in the child welfare system.

Other positions she held include serving as a governor for the St. Michael’s Foundation Council and the Mount Sinai Hospital Board. She was also a recipient of the Peter F. Drucker Award recognizing Canadian non-profit innovation.

In her magazine profile, Cohen said of the University, “It’s a very, very exciting place full of talented people.” She was, undoubtedly, one of them.

Memorial donations may be made in her name to the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.