Jack Howard Cohen, 95, passed away Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, of natural causes. He was born Jan. 28, 1925, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Alex and Anna Cohen, the second of three children, between his older brother, Harold, and his younger sister, Eleanor. He enjoyed sports and scouting as a child and earned his Eagle Scout rank from Troop 50 in Indianapolis in 1941. He subsequently earned 46 badges to qualify him as a Double Eagle as well as the Firecrafter Award, which was unique for the Crossroads of America Council in Indianapolis. He had a lifelong love of scouting which he passed down to his grandsons.
He graduated from Emmerich Manual High School in Indianapolis in 1943. He then served in the U.S. Navy from July 1, 1943, to June 30, 1947. During World War II, he served on the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV/CVA/CVS-11), also known as The Fighting “I” in the Pacific. He was honorably discharged as an Aviation Cadet V-5 USNR in 1947. He attended college and served in the Navy Reserve simultaneously.
Jack attended Purdue University and received a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1946. He was in the first graduating class to receive degrees in the newly established Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He loved all things Purdue and was a proud alumnus. Following his graduation, he began his career at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. He met Gloria Mae Lee at a dance held there and they were married July 15, 1962, at Beth Jacob Congregation in Dayton, Ohio. The couple moved to North Palm Beach, Florida, and Jack began his career with NASA. Their only child Susan was born in 1964.
The family moved to Clear Lake City (Houston), Texas, in 1967. Jack started at NASA Johnson Space Center in 1967 and worked there for over 20 years. He was involved in Project Gemini, Project Apollo, Skylab and the Space Shuttle Program while at JSC. Working at NASA was the highlight of his professional career. He loved the space program and academic challenges it posed. After his retirement from NASA, he consulted for various aerospace engineering contractors and other private companies.
Jack was a 50-year member of the Masons Clear Lake Lodge 1417. He spent numerous years involved in Toastmasters and he was a regular poll worker during election time. He enjoyed going out to eat and he never met a dog he didn’t like. Most of all, he loved his family. He was married for 56 years until 2018, when Gloria died of Alzheimer’s. His pride and joy were his daughter and his grandsons. In more recent years, he enjoyed attending his grandsons’ Boy Scout ceremonies and their band concerts.
He is survived by his daughter, Susan Cohen Mandell; his grandsons, Nathan Mandell and Samuel Mandell; his brother, Harold Cohen; and his sister, Eleanor Gelman. He is also survived by nieces Kathy Cohen, Sandy Schwarz, Lori Cohen and nephew Gary Cohen.
Graveside funeral services with military honors were held Jan. 21 at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home with Rabbi Andrew Paley presiding. Memorial donations can be made to Circle Ten Boy Scouts Friends of Scouting (https://donations.scouting.org/#/council/571/appeal/15), Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering (https://connect.purdue.edu/s/givenow) or a charity of your choice.