Myron Joseph ‘Mike’ Cohen, 84, skilled jazz musician

Myron Joseph 'Mike' Cohen
Myron Joseph ‘Mike’ Cohen

Myron Joseph “Mike” Cohen, 84, died Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, in Virginia Beach.

Mike was born May 14, 1935, to Benjamin H. and Bertha “Boonkie” Glasser Cohen in Cincinnati, Ohio, the third of their three children. He married Reva Lola “Lolly” Burg Dec. 6, 1959, in Akron, Ohio, with whom he had three children.

After Lolly passed away in 1994, Mike married Carol Willis on July 17, 1998, with whom he lived in Virginia Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Mike graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in business administration. He was highly successful in real estate, construction supply, and home building in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, cofounding Kitchen Towne, Towne Distributors, Sir Galahad Construction Company and Aspen Building Corporation. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and U.S. Air National Guard, declining promotion above private, except for one training mission on which he said that he agreed to be a “simulated colonel” after arguing with his commanding officer that he could do it better. This was characteristic of many situations throughout his life in which he insisted that he knew better than anyone else. He liked to claim that he was never wrong, except once when he thought he was wrong, but it turned out that he was right.

Upon retiring, he decided to change from “Type A” to “Type B,” but he insisted that he would be “the best d@#n Type B that you ever saw.”

Mike was completely devoted to Lolly and then to Carol. For 35 years, Mike and Lolly built a family and engaged actively in Tidewater, with deep connections to his mother’s large, extended family and in Captiva. For 21 years, Mike and Carol pursued their shared passions for community engagement, golf, travel and building several homes together in Virginia Beach, Captiva and Palm Beach.

Mike was a skilled jazz musician at the piano, saxophone, clarinet and vibraphone, leading the Mike Cohen Trio during and after college, and the Satin Jazz quintet in Captiva, Florida, during retirement, and many impromptu performances. He is remembered by many for his stirring sounding of the shofar at high holy day services at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk and by a privileged few who got to hear him warm up by playing Hello Dolly. He fondly recalled a visit to Israel during which Ohef Sholom Temple acquired the shofar that they used for many years, and that he first blew publicly at the top of Masada. Mike participated actively in religious, civic, and professional organizations, with particular passion for the state of Israel, which he visited 11 times, proudly noting that his Bar Mitzvah was the day after Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Stanley Fivel Cohen and Lee David Cohen; and his wife, Lolly. He is survived by his wife, Carol; three children, Andrew (Susan), James (Lisa) and Betsy (Marc); and five grandchildren.

A memorial service and reception will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4, at Ohef Sholom Temple, 530 Raleigh Ave., Norfolk. Shiva time and location will be announced at the memorial service.

Share online condolences with the family at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts.

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