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COHEN, Michael H.K. Adventurous Traveler, Mandarin Speaker, Embraced Life in Beijing and Boston Michael H. K. Cohen, on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Cherished and beloved son of Stephen M. L. & Carol Fishman Cohen. Loving brother of Andrew, Sarah and David Cohen. Adored grandson of Nancy & Dr. Albert Cohen and Eileen & the late Dr. I. William Fishman. Michael grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, attended the Commonwealth School in Boston and graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California. Fluent in Mandarin, Michael moved to Beijing, China after college and spent the next three and a half years working at early stage Chinese companies and exploring the Far East. An enthusiastic and curious traveler, he took every opportunity to venture out, visiting 27 countries around the world and some of the most remote regions of China. When he returned to Boston in late 2016, while mapping out his future plans, Michael began to work as a freelance translator, using his elegant writing style to bring Chinese fantasy novels to English-speaking audiences. Michael settled into life in Boston, building connections in the young professional community, preparing for his post-China career, and falling in love with a woman he had known since high school. Until December 2017, Michael remained the same solidly grounded and engaged person he had been throughout his entire life. But in December, without warning, he slid into a depression from which he seemed to be emerging during his final weeks. His decision to take his own life – a life of so much accomplishment and promise – was completely unexpected and shocked everyone who knew him. Since Michael's death, many have written about how special he was and how fortunate they were to have known him. They recall how he served as a leader and mentor for Jewish students at Pomona and the other Claremont colleges, and as a role model for students dreaming of setting out for Asia after college. They admire how he built connections to Jewish communities in China and wherever he traveled. They marvel at his encyclopedic knowledge of music and his remarkable talent for mixing songs to create mashups so professional that people would play them at parties. They remember how he combined his love of travel with a vast knowledge of the intricacies of loyalty point programs, allowing him to explore the world in style on a limited budget, and the pleasure he derived from helping others do the same. They reminisce about his ever-present smile and the warmth, depth and intelligence behind it. Most of all, they recall the sheer pleasure of his company, how good he made them feel, how free they were to be themselves around him, and how much they will miss him. Michael cared about people in the purest way. He loved them for who they were and because he wished the best for them, without guile and without asking anything in return. As one of his close friends wrote, "What you saw was always what you got with him, and what you saw – if you were lucky enough to be his friend – was a truly delightful, generous, easy-going, fun-loving human being." Michael had so much goodness, so much capacity to bring happiness to others and such a bright future. The world is a lesser place without him. A private funeral service was held at Or Emeth Cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts and a memorial service is planned for a later date. Please do not send flowers. Remembrances may be made to Moishe House International Fund, Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road, Suite E216, Charlotte, NC 28226. https://donate.moishehouse.org/checkout/donation?eid=165891 Levine Chapels, Brookline 617-277-8300 www.levinechapel.com
Published in The Boston Globe on Mar. 18, 2018
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