Bel Air icon David Cohen dead at 94

Retired Bel Air haberdasher David Cohen, who became an icon in his adopted community during almost 70 years in business, died this past weekend after a brief illness. He was 94.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Cohen had owned Hirsch's Men's Clothing Store on Main Street in Bel Air since the 1940s, after his father-in-law Benjamin Hirsch, the store's founder, died and the son-in-law took over the business.

It was a place where teenagers could get their prom suits, men had their tuxes altered for their weddings and police and firemen got their uniforms since 1924, when Hirsch's opened.

"He was always there, it seemed like," longtime friend Phil Smith, a stockbroker on Main Street across from the building Hirsch's occupied at 9 S. Main, said. "The slacks I'm wearing right now I bought from him shortly before it [the store] closed."

In 2007, Mr. Cohen decided it was time to retire and closed Hirsch's that November.

Even then, he left a legacy of old-fashioned customer service — often not charging for alterations — and being a class act.

"He was a well-respected businessman," Smith said. "He knew everybody and everybody thought highly of him."

Smith commented that whenever he needed something tailored, Mr. Cohen would have it ready the next day and at no charge.

"He gave you personal service," Smith said, "and had a loyal customer case because of that."

When asked how Smith would remember his friend, he kindly said, "A nice gentleman. A true gentleman in every sense of the word."

According to a profile The Aegis published shortly before his retirement, Mr. Cohen, then 89, said he was sorry to have to close the store – he said his children were not interested in succeeding him – and added: "If I were younger, I would stay open."

Mr. Cohen joined the U.S. Army during World War II, was deployed to the European Theater in 1944 and was honorably discharged in 1946. His obituary to be published later this week notes that he was originally studying to be an engineer but gave up his studies to concentrate on the clothing store.

He was very involved in the Bel Air business community as an active member of the Bel Air Chamber of Commerce and the Bel Air Economic Development Commission. Mr. Cohen was also a member of the Odd Fellows and Optimist Club.

In addition, he was a founder and fifth president of the Harford Jewish Center, now known as Temple Adas Shalom, in Havre de Grace.

In March 2011, the Harford County Council designated Mr. Cohen and his wife, Hannah Hirsch-Cohen, who died earlier that year, as "Harford Living Treasures." They had been married almost 70 years.

Mr. Cohen's funeral will be Wednesday, June 20, at 11 a.m. at Temple Adas Shalom, Route 155 and Earlton Road near Havre de Grace,

The family will be sitting shiva Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Thursday 1 to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at 300 Seattle Slew Place in Havre de Grace.

Donations may be sent to: The Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation c/o The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, 101 W. Mt Royal Ave. Baltimore, Md., 21201, or to Temple Adas Shalom, Earlton Road, Havre de Grace, Md., 21078.

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