Ann R. Cohen, 107, Phila. schoolteacher

Posted: July 20, 2013

Ann R. Cohen, 107, of Bala Cynwyd, an elementary-school teacher in Philadelphia who served as a role model for others in her profession, died Tuesday, July 9, of heart disease at home.

Ms. Cohen spent most of her career teaching sixth grade at Ludlow School and rounded out her years of instruction at Samuel Gompers School.

She always tried to determine exactly which skills each student needed, her family said, then found ways to work with the child to build them.

Her family said Ms. Cohen was an "incredible" teacher. Recognizing that, a Ford Foundation program in the 1960s - designed to improve public schools - identified Ms. Cohen as a role model for teachers and persuaded her to run master classes.

Born in Philadelphia two years before the Model T Ford was introduced in 1908, Ms. Cohen graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls.

She trained for two years at a municipally supported teachers' school at 13th and Spring Garden Streets.

As the years passed, she would encounter former students while walking in Philadelphia. "You look a little different," she would say, but she recalled most of them, said her nephew Mark Sandberg.

Ms. Cohen enjoyed traveling, and attended Philadelphia Orchestra concerts for 65 years. In retirement, she became a well-known bridge instructor, teaching until four years ago.

Although she never married, Ms. Cohen acted as matriarch of her extended family, including a brother, four sisters - two with husbands - two nephews, and a niece.

Ms. Cohen was perennially positive and would preface her remarks about people with a compliment. She was known for crafting notes that offered just the right words for an occasion, in beautiful penmanship.

"Her clear, bold printing and her sketch work of flowers, or a still life, that often accompanied a note were kept and cherished by many," said her niece, Eve Sandberg.

Ms. Cohen's mind was sharp to the end. She suffered few ailments, took no medications, never smoked, and didn't eat many sweets, her family said. She achieved her goal of living to 107.

When asked the secret of her longevity, she replied, "I think it was a bit of luck." She told her nephew: "Problems are just something you make decisions about."

Surviving, besides her niece and nephew, is another nephew. All of her siblings died earlier.

Services and burial were private.

Condolences may be offered to the family via

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or


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