Memorial service held for two Topekans killed in car crash

Photo Courtesy: Washburn University Foundation

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A memorial service 83 year old Dr. Sheldon Cohen and 79 year old Virginia Cohen was held at Washburn University Wednesday.

The couple taught chemistry and biology, respectively, at Washburn. It is also where they first met and became a couple in the early 1960’s.

The couple would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in August. They died together on July 11th in a five car accident that claimed their lives and those of three others.

The Cohens had three sons. Their oldest son, Alex Cohen, said they had an impact on the community.

“You sort of invest a little bit of time and it grows in the community,” he said. “So they clearly invested their time and it’s been growing for decades.”

Washburn University’s president, Dr. Jerry Farley, knew the Cohens for many years.

“Both of them were teachers here,” he said. “And that’s the highest accolade you can pay in our profession; that they were great teachers.”

Dr. Farley said alumni who took Sheldon’s classes asked about him whenever they talked to Dr. Farley.

“He was a teacher start to finish,” he said. “And the legacy that he leaves are those hundreds – those thousands – of students that he taught and that he touched.”

Their family hopes friends will contribute to a scholarship fund instead of sending flowers. Sheldon and Virginia set it up for Washburn students because of what education had done and meant for them.

”Instead of sending flowers, they should invest that money in doing something good.”

Dr. Farley said people can contact the Washburn University Foundation to donate to the Cohens’ scholarship fund.

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