Dad’s beautiful soul transitioned peacefully to heaven on Thursday May 10 with Harvey and Marilyn at his side.
He was determined to make his life and the life of the family he created into something special, exciting and adventurous.
He will be sorely missed and forever loved by son Harvey (Faye), grandsons Binyamin, Yitzchak and Meir, daughter Marilyn (Alex) and granddaughter Cara (Steven) and great grandchildren Corinna, Luzy and Zackery.
He was driven by a work ethic strong and determined, in order to provide generously for his family.
Born in September 1925 to factory working class parents in Manchester England he aspired to become a Rabbi, his Jewish education and devotion to Judaism a focal point of his life.
The oldest of four siblings and the longest surviving, Joe gave up the rabbi dream and took employment as a cutter in the local garment factory. But he never gave up his active pursuit of his Jewish faith through study, Shul attendance and davening. This was his foundation for the rest of his almost 93 years.
His dedication and adventure started when he volunteered for the Royal Air Force at the age of 17 and served his country for several years during world war 2 as an aircraft mechanic where he serviced Lancaster and Halifax bombers.
He travelled across Europe with the RAF and undertook responsibility , hard work and adventure as he served his country proudly .
After demobilization Joe married our mum Louise in 1946 and they were together until mum passed in 2015 after 69 beautiful years.
How dad missed mum so much these last three years and longed to be with her again!
As much as he loved us kids , grandkids and great grand kids and loved spending fun times he heeded her call and got his wish to be reunited again.
Mum and Dad started their married life in Manchester until Dad responded to the opportunity to emigrate to Australia and start an adventurous new life there in 1949.
A new clothing manufacturing facility beckoned and also the beaches of Melbourne and St Kilda.
But our mum became homesick for her family in Manchester and after a year and a half they returned.
Dad only wanted for mum to be happy and so he respected her feelings of isolation from family despite his spirit of adventure for Australia.
So they boarded the boat and headed back. A sea journey of several weeks.
Back in Manchester Dad resumed his factory work Monday to Friday and his work ethic and desire to provide saw him working on the open markets most Saturdays selling fancy dry goods such as ornaments, trinkets, lamps and toys.
And if that wasn’t enough, he would retreat to the little back shed on Sunday afternoons to do some custom cutting work.
Always striving to to work hard and make a few more shillings to supplement the family income.
Marilyn came along in 1951 and Harvey followed in 1956. I was the big sister to my baby brother and we all enjoyed the fruits of our dad’s labour.
When the sixties rolled around, dad started thinking about making a better life than the factory drudge with limited opportunity for economic or lifestyle advantage.
So when employment opportunity in the Winnipeg garment industry was advertised in a Manchester newspaper and the sponsor has connections to the Jewish community , Dad decided it was time to embark on another adventure .
So in December 1967 he gathered his family and we flew to Canada, first to set foot in Montreal and then off to Winnipeg in the winter!
Dad’s experience in the Winnipeg garment factories was not as pleasant as he expected and working conditions were less than ideal, however he determined that Canada would be our home from now on and 50 plus years later we are ever grateful for his spirit of determination to make life better for his family.
All his efforts resulted in the enrichment of our opportunities as his beloved children, grandchildren and great grandchildren here in Canadian society.
Striving even higher, Dad then decided that the factory life and “working for the man” wasn’t sufficient and subsequently embarked upon a retail clothing career by establishing a high end menswear store called Colliers Gentlemen’s Apparel which was located in the Scotia Bank concourse at Portage and Main.
Taking a chance on business with mum at his side in the store was his great accomplishment of the 1980s!
He so much enjoyed shmoozing with the professional crowd and office employees and others at this prime location and he was at the pinnacle of his working life having achieved status as an independent businessman.
He was a sharp dressed man and totally enjoyed recommending styles and fabrics to his clients as he measured them up for their chic custom made suits.
And beautiful shirts, ties and accessories decorated the walls and fixtures of Joe’s perfectly appointed location in the concourse.
Those years were just exhilarating for dad and mum together.
During the course of dad’s successful retail management career he made friends and acquaintances with many customers , business contacts and manufacturers agents.
His ability to connect with people through genuine interest and concern about others and his ability to debate in politics, sports and global matters set him apart as a highly respected member of the community.
In his retirement he loved to read books and newspapers, keep up with the news on tv and spend time with mum on numerous travels back to England to visit his siblings who still lived there and were unable to fly to Canada.
Their journey to the land of Israel to see Harvey and explore our beloved Jewish homeland was a wonderful memory they made together.
He always longed to return.
Hours spent with the beloved grandchildren and great grandchildren were most precious to dad for whom family was absolutely top priority.
Dad loved being a part of the Gwen Secter Centre and his weekly trips to the Wednesday program where he made new friends and led the minyan service before lunch.
He especially loved David and Margo with whom he created a special bond of love and friendship based on common life experiences and yiddishkeit.
Above all we are thankful for the love and care dad received at the simkin Centre over the last seven years.
There are not enough words for me to express our appreciation to the staff on Weinberg1 and also Simkin 1 for the respect, patience, honour and care they extended to our parents.
Theirs is a labour of love.
Dad was totally supported in his physical, emotional and spiritual needs as Harvey and I worked in partnership with these loving and kind staff members.
You know who you are!
Dad guided us with his love, his wisdom and his understanding, but he was firm and disciplined when and as necessary.
He set an example for how to live life in accordance with the laws of Torah, the moral code for our actions and treatment of others.
He always wanted the best for us and encouraged us to work hard, do well and always “save money”.
We will be eternally grateful for the ethics he instilled in us .
Rest in eternal peace Dad.
You are reunited with Mum now.
We will always love and honour your memories.
“I’ll Be Seeing You” - ?Vera Lynn
Donations in memory of Joe Cohen would be gratefully appreciated to the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre and/or the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre.