Marion C. Cohen, arts patron

Marion C. Cohen, a former Roland Park resident and patron of the arts who was a granddaughter of President Grover Cleveland, died Feb. 21 at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., of complications from a fall. She was 87.

The daughter of Francis Grover Cleveland, an actor, and Alice Pardee Erdman Cleveland, a homemaker, Marion Cleveland was born in Belmont, Mass., and raised in New York City.


In addition to President Cleveland, she was the granddaughter of first lady Frances Folsom Cleveland. Her maternal grandparents were Charles R. Erdman, a Presbyterian minister, and Estelle Pardee Erdman of Princeton, N.J.

After graduating in 1942 from Friends Seminary in New York City, she attended Smith College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she studied acting and modeling.


Mrs. Cohen worked in the travel business. While traveling in Europe, she met and fell in love with Fred Cohen, who was president of the Alfred Cohen Travel Agency. They married in 1968.

After her husband retired in 1973, the couple moved to a home on University Parkway. Mrs. Cohen was an active volunteer with Planned Parenthood, the Baltimore Zoo and the annual Smith College Book Sale.

"She was an energetic and generous supporter of a number of causes and organizations, particularly those that championed the rights of animals, environment and a woman's right to choose," said a cousin, Margaret Cleveland, of Portland, Maine.

While living in Baltimore, Mrs. Cohen was a subscriber to Center Stage and the Baltimore Opera Company.

Her husband died in 1992, and in 2002, Mrs. Cohen moved to Tamworth, N.H., where her parents had founded the Barnstormers Theater, a summer stock house, in 1931 and where she had spent many summers.

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After returning to Tamworth, she became an active patron and solicitor for the Barnstormers Theater.

An accomplished seamstress, Mrs. Cohen also enjoyed playing tennis.

"Marion was known for her quick wit, intelligence and definite opinions," said Ms. Cleveland. "She had a distinct mix of chic and flair, whether sporting a classic Pendleton jacket or her turquoise, flowered cowboy boots, or driving through town in her custom-painted, neon-yellow Subaru."


Mrs. Cohen was a gifted storyteller and "could enthrall a garage full of mechanics or a roomful of potential theater patrons," her cousin said.

Plans for a memorial service to be held this summer at President Cleveland's summer home in Tamworth were incomplete as of Sunday evening.

In addition to six other cousins, Mrs. Cohen is survived by a stepson, Livio Cohen of Rome; and two step-grandchildren.