Dave S. Cohn, 77, a retired Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, died on June 16 in Oakland, Calif., after a long illness.
A naturalized American, Mr. Cohn (formerly Paul David Cohn) was born on March 18, 1939, in Toronto, Canada, the second of three sons of Martin and Tmima Cohn. Martin was an executive in Jewish community work in Toronto and, after immigrating to the United States, in Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis and Cincinnati. Tmima, an attorney, was elected to the Toronto Board of Education, and much later served as chair of the Planning Commission of Volusia County, Fla.
From a young age, Mr. Cohn’s goal was to follow in his family’s tradition of helping to make the world a better place. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati and from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 1963, and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1965 to join the War on Poverty. There he served in several community programs before becoming a regional officer with Volunteers in Service to America. In 1973, he joined the San Francisco Regional Office of the Department of Health and Welfare. He also worked with the California State Department of Health before being offered his dream job with USAID in 1980.
Mr. Cohn served with USAID as a health and population officer from 1980 to 1999. He distinguished himself as the first USAIDHIV/AIDS officer, posted to Uganda from 1987 to 1991. The HIV/AIDS education and prevention program he developed for and with the participation of Ugandans from the military, industry, entertainment and all walks of society, was for many years the gold standard in Africa. In addition to Uganda, Mr. Cohn served as health officer in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Peru. On domestic tours, he was country officer for Bosnia and Mongolia. He helped avert widespread suffering in Ulaanbaatar one brutal winter by facilitating emergency coal blasting to keep the city’s central furnace operating. Aside from his family, Mr. Cohn’s greatest love was cars—some classic, some junkers, some high-end. At one point he owned two Lincoln Continentals and a Cadillac—none of them operational; at other times he owned BMWs and Porsches. During his lifetime, he owned more than a total of 70 cars. He was proud to have driven solo from Lima to Patagonia and fromLima to Iguazu Falls, and later enjoyed road trips with his wife, Alice.
Mr. Cohn was predeceased by his parents and his older brother, Alan. He is survived by his wife, Alice Beasley of Oakland; daughters Professor Deborah Cohn Sauer (and her husband, Peter) of Bloomington, Ind., and Dr. Tamara Cohn Krimm (and her husband, Charles) of Wasilla, Alaska; their mother (his former wife and State Department retiree) Irene Cohn, of San Francisco; his younger brother, John; a niece, Leslie Cohn; and grandsons Noah, Benjamin and Daniel Cohn Sauer, who continue his love affair with anything on four wheels.