Lacrosse legend Harvey Cohen passes at 97

Harvey Cohen

COHEN – Harvey of Manhasset, NY at the age of 97, surrounded by family, died on May 27, 2016. Cherished husband of the late Norma, devoted father to Doug, Beth and Barry, loving grandfather to Kyle, Emily, Ben, Danny, Ted and Katie, and new great grand-father to Bennett. W.W.I.I. paratrooper pilot, mental health advocate, housing champion, proud Unitarian Universalist, successful attorney, youth sports leader and fierce lacrosse player, coach, USA men’s team selector, and more. A memorial service will be held to celebrate Harvey’s life in early summer. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, Inc., 16 Main Street, Hempstead, NY, 11550.

“Harvey was a dear friend who represented a devotion to lacrosse like no other,” said Steve Stenersen, president and CEO of US Lacrosse. “He was a generous man who served in many volunteer roles, both locally and nationally. But his most meaningful contributions were likely those made through countless quiet and selfless acts about which no one knew. Harvey represented the best of our sport, and his life has touched countless lives for the better, including mine.”

Cohen first got involved in lacrosse as a player while at the New York Military Academy in 1934. He went on to play at Lafayette College and later coached the freshman team at Harvard University. During World War II he was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corp, flying over 4,000 hours during the war, including missions during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

Cohen made major contributions to the game by helping to introduce and provide playing opportunities for people of all ages. In 1964, he started a youth program, then called the “Midget Lacrosse Program,” in Port Washington, N.Y. Five years later, he helped to bring together four other communities to form the Long Island Midget Lacrosse League. He would go on to develop playing opportunities, programs and teams for high school, post-high school and post-collegiate players, including founding the North Hempstead Lacrosse Club in 1982 and establishing the United States Club Lacrosse Association.

He continued to attend lacrosse events all over New York and the country with his daughter-in-law Kathy taking him to games, conventions, championships and celebrations when he could no longer drive.

In an email to members, the Port Youth Activities (PYA) Board of Directors wrote, “He has made a positive impact on tens of thousands of children not only in Port Washington but across our great country. We will never see someone in our lifetime who has done so much for youth sports.”

In 2014, US Lacrosse honored Cohen as the inaugural recipient of the National Keeper of Lacrosse Award. He was presented the award at the US Lacrosse National Convention and received a standing ovation from more than 2,000 people in attendance. Cohen served on the Board of Directors for The Lacrosse Foundation, one of the organizations that merged to form US Lacrosse, and also served as a selector for the U.S. men’s national teams. When receiving the award, he spoke of his support for US Lacrosse.

“It’s a worthwhile cause,” said Cohen. “The development of youth lacrosse, the development of teams, the growth of participation and the world games — all these things come out of US Lacrosse. They’ve also done tremendous work with medical advances and equipment grants.”

In addition to his induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the Maroon Club Hall of Fame at Lafayette and PYA Hall of Fame. The Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation, a regional chapter of US Lacrosse, presents a service award each year that bears Cohen’s name.

Cohen was preceded in death by his wife, Norma. He is survived by three children, Doug, Beth and Barry, and has six grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 2 at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock at 48 Shelter Rock Road in Manhasset, N.Y.