David Rodman Cohan, attorney, dies

David Rodman Cohan, an attorney who established a national health awareness foundation, died of cancer June 19 at his daughter's Mount Washington home. He was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Brooks Lane in Reservoir Hill, he was the son of Allan Eli Cohan, an attorney, and his wife, Mary.

He was a 1951 City College graduate who earned a degree at the Johns Hopkins University. He then received a degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

He served as a clerk to Chief Judge Hall Hammond of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

As a young attorney, Mr. Cohan was also a music and sports promoter who booked shows at the old Baltimore Civic Center. Family members said he brought Jackie "Moms" Mabley, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Temptations, The Who, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and The Cream with Eric Clapton for shows here.

"He loved music and loved bringing people of all races together. He embraced everyone," said his daughter, Kim Cohan Glick, a Mount Washington resident.

In 1975 he was part of a group that sought to bring an American Basketball Association team to Baltimore. News stories in The Sun noted his efforts to bring the Memphis Sounds franchise here as the Baltimore Claws. The Claws played exhibition games, but the franchise failed.

Mr. Cohan joined the law firm of Weinberg & Green, where he became a partner, before leaving to form his own firm, Cohan & West in Lutherville.

Family members said he specialized in corporate business litigation. He also did estate planning and represented author Tom Clancy and Baltimore Colts player John Mackey.

"He was a loving and charismatic man," said Allie Eckert, a paralegal with whom he worked. "He was a hard worker who stayed late and was the last person in the office at night. Every day we worked together, he thanked me. When we were working hard on a big case, he'd say, 'We had a great day.' "

In 2002 his daughter Susan Cohan, who then had children ages 5 and 7, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Physicians initially said she had only about a month to live. She lived for another two years and died in 2004 at age 42.

Mr. Cohan went on to found the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, which is also called Susie's Cause. He became the foundation's volunteer president and worked to give it a national presence.

"He took an adverse situation and went on a mission, eventually creating a national powerhouse for colorectal cancer awareness," said Dr. Howard K. Berg, a surgeon at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

"He tried to help prevent other people from going through what he did with his daughter," Dr. Berg said. "He was an amazing person who made a grass-roots organization go national."

Colleagues said Mr. Cohan believed in cancer awareness, and held annual Baltimore area health festivals that he ran in conjunction with a local hospital. In March, he ran a festival at Mondawmin Mall and worked with Bon Secours Hospital as a partner.

"With his background in entertainment promotion, he made sure these events would attract people and there would be plenty of music too," said James Robert Giza, who works for the foundation.

Mr. Cohan's group made a $500,000 donation to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

In 2016, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons named Mr. Cohan as its recipient of the David Jagelman Award for Advocacy in Colorectal Cancer. The award said Susie's Cause's had achieved "innovative outreach programs" and praised its role "in leading to significant increases in colon cancer screenings throughout the nation."

"We are committed to fulfilling the mission of Susie's Cause," said Mr. Giza, a foundation employee, in a statement. "Thanks to David's stewardship, we are confident Susie's Cause will experience continued success as we work to advocate for public awareness about colon cancer, promote the importance of regular screenings and raise money to fund research and clinical trials."

Services were held Thursday at Sol Levinson and Brothers.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, Allan Cohan of Baltimore; another daughter, Jody Cohan, also of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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