Cohen remembered as downtown fixture, avid sports supporter


Joel Cohen is being remembered as a fixture of downtown Altoona and an avid supporter of high school sports.

Cohen, 83, of Dorado Hills, Calif., died Tuesday.

Cohen, who moved from the area in 2001, had succeeded his father, Joe F. Cohen, in running the popular downtown Young Men’s Shop after his father died in 1989.

“He was his father’s son. His father was all about Altoona,” former Lt. Gov. and state Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer said Thursday. “Joel was also a big downtown supporter, which was a retail haven at one time.”

Jubelirer called Cohen “very friendly and very genuine.”

“When you got to know him, you could have a great conversation with him,” he said. “He was very charismatic, and he was very engaging.”

Steve Port, an executive with Frozen Farm Products, had known Cohen since they were kids.

“He was a lively guy,” Port said.

Henry Weinberg said Cohen was a reputable businessman.

“Joel was well-liked and was a very fine retail operator,” Weinberg, who was owner of The Colony Shop, said. “He had a good reputation, and he showed his love for the community by carrying on the Joe F. Cohen Blanket Award started by his father.”

The Joe F. Cohen Blanket Award was established by Joe Cohen when he opened the Young Men’s Shop in 1926. A school blanket is presented to an outstanding football player from Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic and Altoona Area high schools and continues to this day as one of the longest running high school awards of its kind.

“I don’t think you can mention Altoona football without mentioning Joel Cohen and his family,” Altoona Area High School Athletic Director Phil Riccio said. “I vividly remember, as a young boy, going to the Young Men’s Shop with my mom and being in awe of all the Altoona football blanket award winners’ statuettes that surrounded the store. It was very impressive and set the high standards of what an Altoona football player should be.

“I can’t think of another person or family that has paid a higher tribute to our Altoona football players than Joel.”

BG Athletic Director Mike Cacciotti agreed.

“We are saddened to hear of Mr. Cohen’s passing,” he said. “Mr. Cohen, along with his family, had and continue to have a generational commitment to excellence in scholastics, leadership and athletics. Bishop Guilfoyle remains honored to continue with the Cohen name and blanket award. On behalf of the BG community, we extend our deepest sympathy and prayers to the Cohen family.”

Arrangements are being handled by the E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home Inc.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.