Ronald Paul ‘Ron’ Cohn, a retired federal electrical engineer who worked in national security, dies

Ronald Paul "Ron" Cohn was passionate about the Parkinson’s boxing group at the Towson Y.

Ronald Paul “Ron” Cohn, a retired federal electrical engineer who worked in national security, died of aspiration pneumonia Sept. 17 at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Anneslie resident was 73.

Mr. Cohn lived with Parkinson’s disease for almost 22 years.


“He was fiercely independent until the end,” said his sister Carol Goral. “He was a lover of the creative arts throughout his life.”

Born in Baltimore and raised in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, he was the son of Harold Paul Cohn, executive vice president of the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., and Catherine Hoffman Cohn, a homemaker.


Mr. Cohn was the eldest of seven children.

He was a 1967 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School, where he was the top electronics student. Mr. Cohn earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Drexel University. He was a member of Eta Kappa Nu, an honor society of electrical engineers, and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

He went on to receive a master’s degree with honors in 1993 from the Johns Hopkins University.

While a student at Drexel, Mr. Cohn began his career in electrical engineering at the National Security Agency in 1968 and worked there as an electrical engineer specializing in digital signal processing until his retirement in 2009.

Colleagues said his work is still being used at the security agency.

He was introduced to his wife, Barbara Hulshoff, by his sister, Nancy Cohn, who worked with her at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center lab. They married in 1988.

A train buff, Mr. Cohn and his wife traveled by rail often to Montana. They also enjoyed camping in Elk Neck State Park, where he photographed wildlife, and vacationing in Bethany Beach, Delaware.

They celebrated their 34th anniversary in August at Peerce’s near Loch Raven, the restaurant where their wedding reception had been held.


Mr. Cohn was a self-taught drummer. As a teen, he formed The Chessmen, a band that performed locally. He was a devotee of 1960s music.

“He felt that music nourished the soul and was food for our mental and emotional health,” his sister said. “He also enjoyed classical music and had a subscription to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.”

Mr. Cohn was the owner of two Corvettes as a young adult. While dating his future wife, he drove a gold Corvette, named the Gold Bullet by one of her neighbors. After he married, he traded it for a Honda Civic.

Mr. Cohn was an avid runner and cyclist and was in good health in his younger years. He competed in numerous marathons and enjoyed challenges with his running buddies.

His love of photography started at an early age. He was a longtime artist member of the Hamilton Arts Collective, and he displayed his landscape photographs at the Hamilton Gallery.

Mr. Cohn often visited Loch Raven Reservoir and photographed nature scenes. He was also an amateur astronomer and took photos of the moon and the planets using his portable telescope.


He also enjoyed model trains and had an extensive N-scale train garden in a basement room.

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His specialties in the kitchen were sour beef and dumplings and a gingersnap recipe handed down through his mother’s family.

“He took pride in serving it to family and friends,” his sister said. “He had a lifelong love for golden retrievers, and their wonderful companionship gave him joy.”

Mr. Cohn was a participant in the Parkinson’s boxing group at the Towson Y.

“He was extremely passionate about this group and had even attended two days prior to his death,” his sister said.

His family described Mr. Cohn as “a caring, generous, devoted family man, and a friend to many. He pursued excellence in all his many endeavors.”


Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Barbara Hulshoff, a medical technologist; his mother, Catherine Hoffman Cohn of Towson; two stepsons, Joe Clancy and Kevin Clancy, both of Baltimore; a stepdaughter, Christine Clancy of Baltimore; three brothers, Stephen Cohn of Silver Spring, Alan Cohn of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and Jeffrey Cohn of Simi Valley, California; three sisters, Carol Goral of Towson, Nancy Cohn of Columbia Falls, Montana, and Patricia Delaha of White Marsh; and a granddaughter.

A memorial service was held Oct. 8 at the Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home.