Richard Dennis Cohen was born May 13, 1953, and passed away July 13, 2019. He lived each precious day of his 66 years to their fullest, with a wide-open sense of wonder and profound love for life. Richard moved from California to Whitefish in 1980 after attending Sonoma State University and the University of California, Berkeley. In the early days Richard operated a snowplow business, then moved on to help develop, build and distribute Phoenix Composting Toilet Systems with his friend and mentor Glenn Nelson. Eventually Richard became a licensed master electrical contractor specializing in solar installations. True to form, many of Richard’s customers became friends as did the young electricians he mentored.
Upon their retirement, Ferne and Marty Cohen joined their son in Whitefish and purchased property on which Richard built two environmentally-friendly homes designed for minimal footprint and energy conservation. Both homes have been presented to the Flathead community and area schools as demonstration models for sustainable living.
Ever a community activist and voice for protecting the environment, Richard was a principal organizer for Citizens for a Better Flathead. Living lightly on the land was Richard’s personal and professional credo. He visited many school classrooms with his “Reduce, Recycle, Reuse” poster and presentation. He and Ferne regularly attended Waste Management board meetings. Richard’s community service included volunteering for DREAM Adaptive Recreation Ski Program where he was crowned the “Best ski instructor, ever!” always encouraging and supporting his students with love and patience. Richard was a long-standing congregant and board member of Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom congregation. In 2011 he was a member of the B’nai Mitzvah class, applying his characteristic passion and persistence to the rigors of learning to read and speak Hebrew.
He excelled at many things in life: piano, dancing (from ballroom to salsa), sailing, skiing, bicycling (the longer the better), swimming, sound technician, bee keeping — above all, as a loving and loyal partner, brother, uncle, and dear friend.
Richard leaves behind his brother (Jeffrey), sister-in-law (Renee), niece (Rivkah) and nephew (Daniel). The Cohen family is forever grateful to Richard’s countless dear friends for all of the joy they brought to his life and comfort to his final days. Heartfelt love and thanks to Richard’s beloved companion Casey Sullivan, the absolute light and solace of his life! And to dear friends Roger Sullivan and Lucy Smith who stood with him throughout his illness and made sure he always had a second set of eyes and ears at medical appointments and procedures.
Rabbi Francine Rosten, Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom, officiated a private memorial service for Richard on July 15.
Should you care to honor Richard with a charitable contribution, the family recommends DREAM Adaptive Recreation, Citizens for a Better Flathead, and Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom.
A celebration of Richard’s life will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Moose Lodge, 230 W. 10th Street, Whitefish. Please join us as we remember Richard with stories, photos, music, laughter, and great love. Dinner will be provided.