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Max Cohen

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Max Cohen Obituary

Max Cohen

Age 87, of Gary (Miller Beach), passed away on May 30, 2014 at the Wm. J. Riley Hospice Residence in Munster, Indiana. Max was born November 15, 1926 in Indianapolis, Indiana to parents Isaac and Esther Cohen. The youngest of eleven children, Max was raised in the Jewish Orthodox tradition of his Sephardic parents. He attended Manuel High School and enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 where he trained for the Underwater Demolition Team, the precursor to the Navy Seals, at Fort Pierce, Florida. World War II ended before his unit saw active combat. Using the GI Bill, Max spent five years obtaining his B.A. and Bachelor of Law degrees at Indiana University. While on campus, he was active with the American Civil Liberties Union both writing for and publishing their campus newsletter. To augment his income while beginning his law practice in northern Indiana, Max worked as a cinder snapper for US Steel for four years. It was there he developed an understanding of union activism. He served as president of the NW Indiana Steelworkers Union.

In 1955, he moved to Gary, Indiana where he was a partner in the firm of Cohen, Delph and McKenna. Soon thereafter he became a solo practitioner. Max joined the faculty of Valparaiso University of Law in the fall of 1970 as a part-time professor of law teaching Trial Advocacy. He published articles in the Valparaiso University Law Review and published several book reviews. In 1971, Max and Nick Thiros formed the law firm of Cohen and Thiros in Gary, Indiana. Through hard work and excellent advocacy, the firm became one of the most prominent law firms in Indiana. Max's pedagogical approach served to nurture and guide the young lawyers of the firm.

Max was one of the most distinguished trial lawyers in the State of Indiana. During his career, he represented a wide variety of clients both in criminal matters and complicated civil matters. In the legal community, Max was known for his great intellectual powers and legendary presence in the courtroom. In addition to being admitted to the State and Federal Courts, the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Indiana Supreme Court, Max was also admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.

He belonged to numerous legal organizations, including the Indiana Bar Association, the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association and the American Bar Association. As a member of Association of Trial Lawyers of America, he served on panels at national meetings on criminal law. He served as president of the Gary Bar Association and president of the Federal Bar Association of NW Indiana. He was proud to be selected to join the American College of Trial Lawyers, a prestigious association of trial lawyers from the United States and Canada. He was appointed by a senior judge of the Seventh Circuit to serve on a committee to write instructions for use in criminal cases. In 2001, Max received the Golden Career award from the Indiana State Bar Association for 50 years as an Attorney at Law.

As a teenager, Max read the classics and listened to classical music. Throughout his life, he attended theater, opera, and symphonies for which he had amazing recall of passages and details. A passionate Bears fan, he braved sleet and snow for 25 years to follow his team at Soldier Field. For many years, he played singles tennis with his pals Gary Galloway and later Lionel Cohen at the Mansards Tennis Club. He loved to swim great distances both in pools and in Lake Michigan.

Max is survived by his wife of 33 years, Susan Ridgely-Cohen; children, Melissa Beth Cohen (Daniel Sawochka) and Lukas Cohen (Carla Cohen), both practicing lawyers in NW Indiana; sister, Gladys Nisenbaum; brother, Ben Pardo; and dear grandchildren, Max and Rachel Cohen. He was predeceased by his beloved son, Joshua Benjamin Cohen.

Funeral services were held on June 2 at Burns Funeral Home of Crown Point, IN with Rabbi Stanley Halpern officiating. Interment was in Temple Israel Cemetery, Portage.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Cohen Family Fund, Legacy Foundation, 1000 E. 80th Place, Suite 402 North, Merrillville, IN 46410 or Temple Israel, 601 N. Montgomery St., Gary, IN 46403. Obituary assistance by Aaron-Ruben-Nelson Mortuary .

Published in the The Indianapolis Star from July 13 to July 17, 2014
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