Judith Love Cohen
August 16, 1933 – July 25, 2016
August 4, 2016
Innovative, Creative, Dedicated, Devoted
Judith Love Cohen, a longtime Culver City resident, was a trailblazing electrical engineer working in the forefront of 20th century science whose many accomplishments included valuable contributions to the Apollo program.
After graduating from USC in 1957 with a degree in electrical engineering Cohen joined Space Technology Laboratories in Redondo Beach, which later became TRW. The accompanying photograph of her with a satellite was taken there in 1959.
"Guiding Girls to Lofty Goals," a story that appeared in this publication in May 2014, mentions her recollection of conversations with several astronauts who told her that her work had saved their lives.
She was no stranger to the words, "We have liftoff," words that could also describe the flight taken by her courageous, adventurous and soaring spirit on July 25, 2016, a spirit that was memorialized at her funeral on July 31st at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, CA. The officiant was Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh.
Cohen's engineering career started in the 1950s and segued into her creating Cascade Pass with her husband, artist David Katz, a publishing company producing children's books that she co-authored with other professionals and that were illustrated by Katz, together with lesson plans for teachers. The first book was "You Can Be a Woman Engineer."
She was a brilliant, amazing woman of myriad interests and talents whose life was a testament to believing in oneself and following one's dreams, goals she was passionate about communicating to young girls whom she aspired to encourage in the sciences. And she certainly succeeded in transmitting that passion through her own example and through her inspirational and informative books about the array of careers in which women were underrepresented.
In May of 2014 Cohen was honored by IEEE-USA. (IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is the world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence.) She received its Distinguished Literary Contributions Award for furthering the advancement and public understanding of the engineering profession through a lifetime of dedication to journalistic STEM education for young women. (STEM refers to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)
She was an icon, not only a pioneer in a profession in which women were scarce, a writer of children's books that made a difference, an author of articles, but so much more: beloved wife, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and friend; dancer; playwright; and a woman of unquenchable faith and spirit.
At the service several family members offered loving and funny memories. Her daughter, Rachel Siegel, played a beautiful and moving selection on the flute. Katz, her husband of 35 years, shared a poem he wrote shortly before her death. "In it I hope to express what I think would be her thoughts and words," he said. "It's an interpretation but, hopefully, will capture her essence." The poem, "Remember Me," follows:
Remember me not for my present state
My body declining
Remember me for spirit that is still strong within me
Remember me for my passion to become a woman engineer
Working on some of the most exciting projects
Of the 20th century
Remember me for the love of my family
My extended family that I embraced with all my heart and soul
Remember me for my support and love of my strong and talented daughter
Who bloomed later in life to become a wonderful mother
Raising a very special child who would become
A beautiful granddaughter that I would deeply love
And who brought me great joy from the day I laid eyes on her
Remember me for the love of my grandsons
I always loved their creativity, their interest in science
Their questions, their enthusiasm
Remember me for the love of my daughters-in-law
One brought me artistic clothes that I love
The other helped write my children's books
Remember me for the love of my sons
So unique, intelligent and talented
Remember me for my passion to help women break out of stereotypes
To become all they could be
Remember me for my support of the sciences
Remember me for my love of dancing, including ballet and folk dancing
Remember me for my creative passion
My play, my children's books, my articles
Remember me for my determination
For being brave and courageous
And even when things didn't work out
I moved on. I pushed forward. It's the way I lived my life
I lived my life without regret
Remember me for my belief in God
That there is a plan and you are part of my plan, my life, my spirit
You have all touched my life
You are all inside of me
And for those I have touched with my life
My spirit shall remain inside of you forever
Cohen will not only be remembered by her husband, David Katz; her children, Neil Siegel, Rachel Siegel and Thomas ("Jack") Black; her daughters-in-law, Robyn Friend and Tanya Haden; her grandchildren, Sonya Siegel-Chanen, Sammy Black and Tommy Black, but also by her friends, neighbors, and the myriad youngsters she influenced.
The Hubble Space Telescope, one of the projects she worked on during her engineering career, provided a unique window on the universe. Cohen individually provided a window for discovery as well by being an exceptional role model whose prominent and wide-ranging effect broadened and enhanced the personal universe of so many young girls by revealing opportunities to explore and learn about alternative career paths leading to exciting new destinations.
Judith Love Cohen was a woman who refused to be constrained by glass ceilings, instead aiming for the moon and beyond.
She made it, and she will be remembered.