Sidney Cohen, a pollster who took Baltimore's pulse for nearly 30 years, died yesterday of kidney cancer at his Mount Washington home. He was 72.
Born and raised in New York City, Mr. Cohen went to work in 1961 for Sidney Hollander Associates, a Baltimore marketing research firm. The two Sids became fast friends and then partners as the firm was renamed Hollander, Cohen Associates.
"Sidney was an ideal partner and a good friend," Mr. Hollander said yesterday. "Our families were very close. All seven of our combined offspring worked for the business at one time or another, mainly in the summers, but they all earned their way."
Mr. Cohen earned his master's and doctoral degrees in economics from New York University. He served in France during World War II as an Army signal corpsman and moved to Baltimore in 1950 to become an economist for the Maryland State Planning Commission. In 1958, he returned to New York for about three years, then came back to Baltimore in 1961 to work for Hollander Associates.
Over the years Mr. Cohen handled most of the commercial accounts for the firm, Mr. Hollander said. "Sidney Cohen did extensive work for The Baltimore Sun developing political polls and . . . must have worked with every major bank and department store in the city," he said.
Mr. Cohen also did marketing research for government agencies, hospitals and major builders and developers, including the Rouse Co., Mr. Hollander said.
Twice during the 1960s, Mr. Cohen was local chapter president of the American Marketing Association and was a board member for the Association of Commerce. In 1978 he was on the board of trustees for Park School.
In 1990, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Hollander sold their business to Scott McBride, a former vice president with the now-defunct Equitable Bank. The new company, based in Towson, was renamed Hollander, Cohen & McBride Inc. Mr. Cohen stayed on part time until his recent illness.
Mr. Cohen loved to read history, politics and especially spy thrillers. Family members spoke fondly yesterday of his sense of humor.
"He was a great punster, some clever and some groaners," said his son, Paul Cohen of San Francisco. "He had a gift for finding the optimistic note and imparting strength and courage to others."
Mr. Cohen had a passion for his monthly poker night with a group of close friends, said Sylvia Resnick Cohen, his wife of 49 years.
"He loved to win and took losing in stride," she said, "but it was the camaraderie built up over 33 or 34 years that he loved best."
Mr. Cohen also taught part time at Loyola College and the University of Baltimore, but Mrs. Cohen said he was at his best when teaching a child to ride a bicycle or helping a family friend struggling to pass a course in statistics.
"He also was very committed socially and generous in matters that concerned him," said a daughter, Laura Hewitt of Baltimore. "He instilled those social beliefs and values in all of his children."
Services will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Brothers Inc., 6010 Reisterstown Road.
Mr. Cohen also is survived by another daughter, Sandra Crute of Baltimore; a brother, Murray Cohen of Highland Park, N.J.; and two grandchildren. Another son, Daniel, died in April.