Evelyn Boss Cogan, 65, lawyer, professor

Evelyn Boss Cogan
Evelyn Boss Cogan
Posted: September 23, 2013

 Evelyn Boss Cogan, 65, a professor at La Salle University, died Saturday, Sept. 14, of lung cancer at her home in Center City.

Known to friends as Evie, she fought an eight-year battle with cancer and chronicled the experience in a 2013 article for Philadelphia Lawyer magazine.

It started in 2005 with a bad cough, she wrote. After cancer was found in her right lung, a doctor told her to go home and get her affairs in order; she had six months to live.

Undaunted, she sought out Corey Langer, a doctor at Fox Chase Cancer Center, who scheduled chemotherapy, radiation, and more chemo.

"Life was good" for two years, until the cough returned in 2009. She applied for admission to a clinical trial at Massachusetts General Hospital tailored to those with a genetic mutation that makes certain lung cancer cells responsive to treatment.

"I could hardly contain my excitement when I made my first trip up to Boston, to get the first supply of pills," she wrote.

Two weeks later, the medicine had to be withdrawn when her liver enzymes were elevated. The pills were reinstated at a low dose, with good results. Eight months later, the clinical trial opened at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

"I feel so lucky to be a beneficiary of this exploding area of personalized cancer treatment. My hope for a miracle in the future is here and now," she wrote.

She had learned, she said, "there are no bounds to the joys of life. Grab them when you can."

Dwelling on the negative, she said, "wastes too much energy." She likened the vagaries of life to playing bridge, a game in which she excelled: "This is the hand I'm dealt. I'm going to play it the best that I can."

Throughout the often-grueling ordeal, "I never heard her complain once," said her son, Jonathan D. Cogan.

A native of Northeast Philadelphia, Mrs. Cogan graduated from George Washington High School and earned her bachelor's and law degrees from Temple University.

She joined the La Salle faculty in 1988 and taught business and the law until retiring in 2010. She previously worked at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Jonathan Cogan said his mother enjoyed teaching because she "liked the law and liked getting people interested in it. From the time I was a child, we would talk about the law together. She's one of the main reasons I decided to become a lawyer."

David Jones, chair of La Salle's marketing department, to which Mrs. Cogan belonged, said she was skilled at engaging students; she even took a theater course so her classes would be more lively.

Gregory Bruce, a former dean of La Salle's business school, described Mrs. Cogan as a wonderful colleague. "She was one of those people [that] if you were around her, you felt better," he said.

Mrs. Cogan married Philadelphia defense lawyer Dennis Cogan. The two divorced; she married Daniel Z. Louis in 2010 after they met through friends. "There was a spark," Louis said of their first date.

Besides her husband, former husband, and son, she is survived by a sister, Susan Kleiber, and two grandchildren.

Graveside services were Monday, Sept. 16, at King David Memorial Park in Bensalem.

Donations may be made to the Jane and Leonard Korman Lung Center, 834 Walnut St., Suite 650, Philadelphia 19107.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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