Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 135, page(s) 723-725

OBITUARY SKETCH OF GEORGE H. COHEN

In every generation of lawyers there are those who gain positions of eminence in their profession. Occasionally a lawyer distinguishes himself for accomplishment in fields other than the law. Rarely does a lawyer attain genuine and lasting distinction in several different fields of activity. George H. Cohen attained that rare distinction.*

George H. Cohen was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, February 5, 1892. In his youth his family moved to Hartford where he attended the public schools. He graduated from the Hartford Public High School and from Trinity College in 1911, completing the four-year course in three years. He received the M.A. degree from Yale in 1912 and the Ph.D. degree in 1914. He was graduated from the Yale Law School in 1917. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Mu Sigma. At 22, he was the youngest man ever to attain the degree of doctor of philosophy at Yale University. President Arthur T. Hadley of Yale once described Dr. Cohen as "one of the keenest students we have ever had in any of our graduate schools."

Dr. Cohen was a gifted and distinguished linguist. He became the master of some eighteen languages. His early proficiency as a linguist was such that following his graduation from law school he was called to Washington by the state department. He left the state department to enlist in the army in November, 1917, and served throughout the war, working his way up through the ranks.

At the conclusion of the war Dr. Cohen returned to Hartford, where he became assistant United States district attorney, an office which he occupied until 1934, when he became, for a brief time, Untied States district attorney. Meantime, Dr. Cohen had established himself in private practice, a field in which he had wide and successful experience in litigating important civil matters.

During his seventeen years' service in the office of the district attorney at Hartford Dr. Cohen became recognized as one of the nation's leading authorities on federal practice and procedure. He wrote extensively on this as on many other subjects and was a popular and forceful public speaker. Meanwhile, he successfully handled countless important cases for the government. The administration of his office was characterized by a humaneness and a fairness which made him beloved by counsel, litigants and bench alike.

Dr. Cohen was possessed of boundless energy. While leading a vigorous professional life, he constantly utilized and maintained his interest in languages and yet devoted himself to his several hobbies. He was an active collector of stamps and of coins. He maintained a keen and aggressive interest in political affairs. He contributed generously to periodicals and was editor of the Connecticut State Bar Journal from 1935 to 1944. In addition, he edited for over three and a half years the Hebrew Record, an English weekly which he founded and which later was absorbed by the Jewish Advocate published in Boston. He was active as a member of the American, State and Hartford County Bar Associations, the American Numismatic Association, the American Philological Association, the American Jewish Publication Society, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Hartford Zionist District and the Hartford Lodge No. 88 AF and AM. He was secretary of the South End Bank and Trust Company and a member of the Congregation Ados Israel and B'nai' B'rith.

Dr. Cohen was married to Miss Pauline Kaufman, of Hartford, in August, 1931. He was always a thoughtful and devoted husband. Surviving are his wife, his aged mother and two brothers, Attorneys Naaman Cohen and Louis S. Cohen, both of Hartford.

Linguist, scholar, author, lawyer - but with all that, a modest and unpretentious and thoroughly genuine man. He mingled his brilliance with an unusually keen sense of humor and a sensitive nature in a most engaging way. He was a warm and friendly man. He was as tireless in his attack upon those whom he believed dishonest as upon causes which he believed unjust. His devotion to his chosen profession was matched only by his reverence for our courts and our system of equal justice for all. His generosity and his patience and his ever-present fairness were characteristics which grew with the years. His service as a lawyer was not only to his clients, it was likewise to the bar as a whole and, in a unique measure, to his state and nation. His memory will live in the hearts of countless clients and friends.

*Mr. Cohen died February 23, 1949.

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