Joel Cohen’s classmates have enthusiastically testified to the enormous spirit he displayed all through high school and well into adulthood. He held Huntington High School in the highest esteem and was widely known as one of its proudest and most accomplished graduates.
The well-known local business owner was so successful that following his death, the Cohen family endowed a generous scholarship fund to perpetuate his memory at his alma mater.
This year the fund presented a $1,000 award to Class of 2016 member Sam Weitzner. The teenager is headed to Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina in the fall. He plans to study in the criminal justice and armoring programs in preparation for a career in law enforcement.
Mr. Weitzner said he was unsure of what he wanted to do in life and where he wanted to attend college. So he engaged in a period of self-reflection and came to realize that a desire to help people and make their lives better was at the top of his list.
When he completes his college coursework, Mr. Weitzner intends to participate in basic law enforcement training (the equivalent of a police academy) in suburban North Carolina.
The Cohen scholarship was presented to Mr. Weitzner by retired Huntington teacher and longtime Cohen family friend Eileen Darwin, who spoke about the teenager and his exceptional qualities during the high school’s annual academic awards ceremony in June.
Mr. Weitzner completed three years of video arts courses during high school and interned during his senior year with art teacher Heather Swan, who heads the video program.
Joel Cohen a proud Blue Devil
Joel Cohen was born in Huntington and was as thoroughly a Blue Devil as any one person can possibly be. A 1939 Huntington graduate, he was an exceptional student and an essential member of several athletic teams, including the powerful football squad led by storied head coach William Class. He later served a long and fruitful stretch as president of the Huntington High School Alumni Association.
A large old-fashioned, non-mechanical megaphone that Mr. Cohen used to drive fellow students into delirium during athletic events is in the collection of Huntington’s School Heritage Museum. It symbolizes a bygone era in Blue Devil sports history.
The famed owner of a local business products company, Mr. Cohen was deeply involved in the community and many of its organizations. He organized the Town of Huntington’s celebration of America’s bicentennial in 1976. It was in this spirit of service to others that the Cohen family created the Joel H. and Selma D. Cohen Vocational Scholarship. The first award was presented in 1993 following Mr. Cohen’s untimely death.
Mr. Cohen’s contributions to Huntington are forever recognized in Heckscher Park, where a Japanese cherry tree was planted in his honor. The tree is accompanied by an engraved plaque celebrating the generous gentleman and one of the most colorful characters in local history.