Marshall Cohan


Island artist Marshall Nelson Cohan died Thursday, April 21, 2011.

Born in Wellesley on November 14, 1926, Marshall attended Newton Country Day School, graduated from Noble and Greenough in 1944, and graduated from Harvard University in 1948. He served in the Merchant Marine during the end of WWII.

As a young adult Marshall worked with his father on Martha’s Vineyard where they settled in Katama on Great Plains Farm (now Herring Creek Farm). Marshall built the first privately owned swimming pool on the Island which remains his family’s favorite spot. His early years on Martha’s Vineyard sparked a lifelong love of the Island, which he passed down to his family.

On January 7, 1956, Marshall married his beloved wife, Judith J. Cohan. They lived in Concord and eventually settled in Uxbridge. Their love of art, music, and family deeply enhanced their 55 years of marriage. They spent their golden years summering at their home on Martha’s Vineyard and enjoyed the warm winter months in Wellington, Florida.

Marshall is also survived by his daughters, Martha W. Cohan of Edgartown and Amy E. Cohan and son-in-law Austin K. Smith of Portland, Maine. In addition to his wife and daughters, Marshall is survived by his six loving grandchildren: Emily H Cohan, Michael “Spike” Cohan Lavigne, Marshall Cohan Davidson, Norwood Nelson Cohan-Smith, Jackson Kilgore Cohan-Smith and Perry Alice Cohan-Smith; his sisters Janet Aldeborgh of Edgartown and Barbara Edgehill of Santa Barbara, Calif.; numerous nieces and nephews; and many dear friends, particularly Walter E. Robb of Chilmark and Sherborn, who, together with his wife, Anne, were devoted friends to Marshall and Judy. Marshall was predeceased by his parents, Benjamin and Hildgarde Cohan, and his sister, Dorothy Cohan Hughes.

After college Marshall worked with his father in the wool business, buying and selling wool in their company Cohan and Co. Tops of Boston. In the early 1970s he founded and for two decades was the president of Skane Knit, Inc. in Uxbridge, producing sweaters and hats for ski resorts, Nantucket Looms, and the U.S. Olympic ski team. He served on many boards, including the Wool Associates of N.Y., the Uxbridge Planning Board, the Trustees of Uxbridge Savings Bank, Mass Financial Services in Boston, and MacArthur State Park in Florida.

After retiring, Marshall reclaimed his artistic passion, taught himself to weld. With Alexander Calder as his inspiration, he began sculpting with metal. His playful and enigmatic works are on display at the Granary Gallery and Featherstone on Martha’s Vineyard as well as in the personal collections of family and friends.

A private memorial service will be held in celebration of Marshall’s life at his home on the Island. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society or Featherstone Center for the Arts, 30 Featherstone Road, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.