Dr. Theodore J. (“Ted”) Cohn passed away on November 25, 2012 at age 82, after a prolonged illness. Cohn was an orthopteran (crickets and katydids) specialist and a long-term adjunct curator of insects in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Cohn received his Ph.D. at U-M in 1961 and served on the faculty of San Diego State University from 1964 -1993, retiring as Professor Emeritus of Biology. He was very active in The Orthopterists’ Society – an international scientific organization with 440 members from 60 countries – having served in many capacities, including president. Throughout his academic career, Cohn contributed to the UMMZ, adding many thousands of Orthoptera to the collection.
Upon retirement, Cohn and his wife Jean, another UMMZ doctoral graduate, split their time between Ann Arbor (May-December) and San Diego (rest of the year) until ill health in recent years forced them to locate permanently in Ann Arbor. Despite severe sight impairment, rapidly declining health and the loss of Jean in December 2011, Cohn still came into work almost every day. He was determined to complete a large collaborative study entitled: Dichopetala and new related North American genera: a study in genitalic similarity in sympatry and genitalic differences in allopatry (Tettigoniidae: Phaneropterinae: Odonturini). He successfully achieved this goal and the manuscript is currently being prepared for publication.
For many years, Cohn donated generously to the UMMZ Insect Division, sponsoring the hiring of graduate and undergraduate student assistants for collection development, purchasing supplies and equipment for the collection, supporting visiting specialists, hiring artists to draw specimens in the museum collections for eventual publication, publishing papers based on museum holdings, and more. He was also a very generous donor for museum social functions and was an integral and valued part of the museum community. A gregarious, engaging personality and opera buff, Cohn was rarely at a loss for words and always quick to share a joke or an anecdote, according to his colleagues. "Theodore J. Cohn was that rare entity, a genuine mensch," said Diarmaid Ó Foighil, director and curator, UMMZ and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “He will be sorely missed.”
Photo credit: Janet Bell