Bernard T. "Bernie" Cohan
1930 - 2020
{ "" }
Share
Share Bernard's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Bernard T. "Bernie" Cohan

Bernard T. "Bernie" Cohan died peacefully at home on June 27, 2020. Born on December 29, 1930 in New York City, Bernie moved to Old Bridge in 1936 and remained a lifelong resident. Bernie was known for many things, but most of all he was known for the three "Fs" in his life: FAITH, FAMILY, and the FIRE service.

Bernie said Easter Sunday, April 5, 1953 was "the best day of his life" because he married his best friend and sweetheart Elaine Farley that started a life of love and devotion that lasted for 67 years. Before his passing, the last word he spoke was "Elaine."

A devout and observant Catholic, Bernie was a charter parishioner at two new parishes - first at St. Ambrose Parish and then at the Catholic Community of Most Holy Redeemer Church where he also served as a Eucharistic Minister, both in Old Bridge. Along with his wife Elaine, Bernie was honored by the Diocese of Metuchen with the Regina Nostra Award in 2011 for service to the Church.

Predeceased by his parents Harry & Irene (Crimmins) Cohan, Bernie is survived by his loving wife Elaine, and his five children Michael (Melinda Zito), Ruth Lukshis (John), Thomas, Patricia Benvenuto, and Carol Conniff (John) and his informally adopted "sixth child" Donald Craig (Jayne). Bernie was also deeply loved by his grandchildren Michael Lukshis and Katie Cafaro (Joseph), Staff Sergeant Daniel Benvenuto, USMC (Lisa) and Kathleen Benvenuto (Colin Rooney), and Christopher Conniff (Arielle) and Sean Conniff (Roxanne Coburger). Bernie adored his five great-grandchildren Steven, Jaxson, Kaiden, Diana and Nathaniel. He was at his happiest when the whole clan, along with extended family and friends, gathered for holiday feasts and special occasions. To celebrate Christmas last year, the entire family gathered for the last time and took a family portrait.

Mr. Cohan served in the U.S. Navy Reserves from 1951 to 1953 and was called to active duty right before the end of the Korean War. Severely injured during a helicopter training flight in 1953, he was honorably discharged as a disabled veteran in 1955.

In 1956, Bernie joined the Laurence Harbor Volunteer Fire Department to begin a passion for public service that lasted the rest of his life. When Bernie and Elaine moved from Laurence Harbor to the Cheesequake section of Old Bridge in 1961, Bernie joined the Cheesequake Volunteer Fire Department. Until his death, he served in many leadership positions, beginning as the Chief from 1970 through 1972. He kept the title "Chief" throughout his life because as the saying goes in the fire fraternity "once a chief, always a chief." Bernie put that adage to work, remaining active in leadership positions for decades, including service as a Past President of the Eastern Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Past President and active membership in the Bayshore Fire Chiefs Association, which honored him as its "Man of the Year" in 2005, and the Past President of the NJ State Fire Chiefs Association.

In addition to his time in the fire service, Bernie was also a Special Police Officer with the Old Bridge Police Department for 50 years, receiving recognition for this service in 2008.

Following his military service, Bernie worked for the United States Postal Service for 34 years, retiring in 1985. On the first Monday following his retirement from the Postal Service, Bernie immediately began his second career as a Fire Marshall for the Old Bridge Fire District #2, where he served for ten years. Following his second retirement, Bernie and Elaine spent several years traveling in Europe and North America.

Everyone knew Bernie in some way. Whether it was because of his time as the window clerk at the South Amboy, and later Laurence Harbor Post Office, as a Special Police Officer in Old Bridge, or as a member of the fire company for over 60 years, people knew they could count on him when they needed him. He will long be remembered for the selfless way he lived his life.

The family will hold a visitation at Rezem Funeral Home, 457 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, June 30 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Most Holy Redeemer Church, 133 Amboy Rd, Matawan, NJ 07747 at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1. Visitors to both the funeral home and church are advised that required public health precautions of masks and social distancing will be enforced. Due to a strict seating limit at the church, friends and family planning to attend the funeral mass are asked to please indicate their intention either at the funeral home or with a member of the family on Tuesday. Additionally, due to the public health restrictions, there will be no repast following the funeral mass.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Bernie's name be made to the New Jersey Firemen's Home, 565 Lathrop Avenue, Boonton, NJ 07005, or the Burn Surgeons of St. Barnabas Medical Center, 94 Old Short Hills Road, Livingston, NJ 07039.




To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Home News Tribune from Jun. 28 to Jun. 29, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
JUN
30
Visitation
02:00 - 04:00 PM
JUN
30
Visitation
07:00 - 09:00 PM
JUL
1
Mass of Christian Burial
11:00 AM
Funeral services provided by
Order by phone: (866) 764-7853
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Rezem Funeral Home
Not sure what to say?
1 entry
June 30, 2020
Rest in Peace Bernie...We will take it from here.
New Jersey State Fire Chiefs Association.
Chris Assenheimer, Secretary
Friend
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences