Washburn releases statement on passing of former professor and wife killed in crash

Photo Courtesy: Washburn University Foundation

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Washburn University released a statement Wednesday regarding a former university professor and his wife who were killed in a multi-vehicle crash Tuesday near Kansas City.

President Jerry Farley released this statement to faculty and staff on the passing of Dr. Sheldon Cohen, 83, and his wife Virginia Cohen, 79, who was also a former instructor at Washburn.

With great sadness, I announce the passing of Dr. Sheldon H. Cohen, professor emeritus. and his wife Virginia.  Both were killed in a car accident yesterday.

Dr. Cohen was a leader among the faculty and a guiding force in the Department of Chemistry.  In addition to his long career as a teacher, he served Washburn in a number of roles including Provost and Academic Vice President from 1982-1984 and Executive Director of Planning from 1991-1999.

Dr. Cohen joined the Washburn University Faculty in 1960 and rose to a position of professor.  He was well-respected and popular and he even continued to teach as an adjunct after his retirement in 1999. During his career, he authored more than 60 scientific papers and served in a number of leadership positions with Phi Lambda Upsilan, the national chemical society.

In addition to his work at the university, Dr. Cohen was sought after as an advisor and board member for a number of community organizations in Topeka including Weed and Seed, the College Hill Neighborhood Association and the Kansas Wildflower Association.  He was recognized in 2010 with the Col. John Ritchie Award which is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves both in service to the university and to the community.

The Cohens both continued their long interest in higher education and established a scholarship fund to benefit students in Washburn’s chemistry and biology departments.

From my earliest days at Washburn Dr. Cohen was a valued advisor.  He was always thoughtful and considerate.  He was an exceptional teacher.  His students have often told me of the positive impact he had on them.

Through his long service and commitment to students, he left a lasting legacy at Washburn.  And, since his retirement, he and Virginia have continued to be engaged in Washburn activities.

I offer our deepest sympathy to the Cohen family and to the entire Washburn community on the passing of these outstanding individuals.

Ricardo Mireles, 38, of Topeka was also killed in the crash along with Teresa Butler, 61 of Urbana, Illinois and an unidentified 63-year-old.

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