COHEN STEPHEN BRUCE COHEN Stephen Bruce Cohen died at home on August 17, 2018 after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a loving husband and father, beloved professor of law, and human rights activist. Born on September 11, 1945 in Philadelphia to Sylvan and Alma Cohen, he graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1963, from Amherst College, where he was president of the student council, in 1967, and from Yale Law School in 1971. Throughout college and law school, he was a leader in the movement to end the Vietnam war, working on Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign and organizing one of the largest anti-Vietnam War protests in the country. Stephen began teaching law after graduating from Yale, first at Rutgers Law School and then at the University of Wisconsin. In 1978, he began a two-year stint as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, where he was not afraid to criticize what he believed was the Carter administration's misplaced support for the Shah of Iran. After resigning from the State Department, he joined the faculty of Georgetown Law School, where he taught for the next 38 years, specializing in the areas of tax and international human rights. During the 1980's and early '90s, he frequently traveled to South Africa to lend support to the anti-apartheid movement, and he participated in efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear war by limiting nuclear weapons testing and reducing stockpiles. He was appointed by President Clinton to the South African Enterprise Development Fund, which focused on financing new businesses in South Africa. More recently, he was a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the International Human Rights Law Group, a non-profit organization engaged in advocacy, strategic human rights lawyering, and training around the world. As a brilliant but approachable teacher, sometimes conducting class with his shoes off, he had a special gift for making understandable complex subjects, such as tax policy, as he did in his casebook on federal income taxation. He was devoted to his students, regularly inviting them to dinner at his home. Over the years, in addition to teaching at Georgetown, he taught at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Wisconsin, Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University in Israel, Heidelberg University in Germany, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Stephen is survived by his wife Laura Sager, his children Samara Neely-Cohen and Maxwell Neely-Cohen, his brother Marc Copland, his stepchildren Matthew Sager and Jessica Sager, and a step-grandchild Sophia Pandya. He had an immense capacity for making and keeping devoted friends throughout the world, many of whom he would gather at his home in Washington, DC for Passover, ending the Seder with a reading of The Four Freedoms, reflecting his life-long dedication to liberty and justice. For those wishing to make a gift in Stephen's memory, donations to All Our Kin, an organization empowering individuals to create childcare programs providing high quality care to children in need, and to Refugees International, an independent humanitarian organization that advocates for better support for displaced people and stateless people, would be most welcome. Services private.For those wishing to make a gift in Stephen's memory, donations to All Our Kin, an organization empowering individuals to create childcare programs providing high quality care to children in need, and to Refugees International, an independent humanitarian organization that advocates for better support for displaced people and stateless people, would be most welcome. Services private.
Published in The Washington Post on Aug. 24, 2018.