Dr. Richard Cohen, a longtime Great Neck resident and retired chief of surgery at Parson’s Hospital in Queens, died Jan. 15, after a long illness. He was 83.
Dr. Cohen practiced medicine at multiple New York hospitals and helped implant the first pacemaker in New York. Born in Whitestone on June 22, 1931, he was as devoted to his family, as he was to his medical practice. He leaves his wife of 52 years, Carole; two daughters, Deborah and Laura. His eldest son, Jonathan, died in 2003.
Dr. Cohen practiced medicine for more than 30 years, scaling back his hospital work in the early 1990s to help care for his son, who was stricken with cancer. Dr. Cohen believed in the concept of a “family” doctor and routinely took calls at home, day or night, from patients, his daughter Deborah said. While he was convalescing in a nursing home, an aide recently noticed photos of Dr. Cohen as a young doctor. Recognizing the face, the aide told his wife Carole that as a young girl, Dr. Cohen had performed an emergency appendectomy on her. The aide said her mother had a photo of Dr. Cohen in their home and always told her that he had saved her life.
Dr. Cohen recently began to decline with dementia. As a physician, he challenged the disease with full determination. He made lists of words and walked around his Wilshire neighborhood, repeating the names of neighbors.
Dr. Cohen loved to golf, swim and adopt rescue dogs. One of his favorite activities was playing ping pong with his children and their friends and teaching many a child to ski, both on snow and in the water. He was a patient, gentle man who in his later years took great pleasure in spending time with his granddaughters, Isabel and Jacie Colette, who called him “Poppy.”