Dorothy Mahoney Cohen, age 92, former South Pasadena mayor and 55-year-resident, died January 20, 2018. She served nine years on the City Council from 1994 to 2003 and 14 years as a public information assistant for the South Pasadena Unified School District.
A native Californian descended from late 19th century Sonoma County pioneers, she also was a former reporter and columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune and had worked for newspapers in Denver and Phoenix.
Cohen was active in many civic organizations, serving as president of the Library Board of Trustees, as president of the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, as co-founder in 1982 of the Friends’ Bookstore, where she volunteered weekly for 35 Years, as president of the League of Women Voters, and as a member of the South Pasadena Beautiful Board of Directors, the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation and The Woman’s Club of South Pasadena.
She received many awards and certificates of recognition, including the prestigious President’s Award from the California Library Association, an award as Outstanding Volunteer from the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners, the 29th Congressional District Woman of the Year award, the Los Angeles County Commendation for Dedicated Service and the Awesome Ostrich Award as adviser to the founding board of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.
Cohen served on many committees dedicated to improving the city, among them the Oaklawn Bridge Restoration Committee, the General Plan and Mission Street Specific Plan update committees, the Community Redevelopment Commission and the Senior Citizen Commission. She was Co-chair of the Gold Line Art and Design Committee during the construction of the light rail through South Pasadena. One result of that committee’s work was the 2003 installation on the Station Plaza of the 10-foot walking man sculpture, “Astride-Aside,” by Michael Stutz. At a later time, she sponsored the installation of a plaque at the site.
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She took particular pleasure in overseeing the installation of a city clock tower on the grass strip on Meridian Avenue across from the Gold Line Station. Wishing to preserve the small-town character of the community, she was proud of helping pass a city ordinance restricting additional drive-in restaurants. She pushed for greater communication between city government and residents and assisted in establishing a city newsletter, “Neighbors.” She served as its Editorial Adviser for seven years.
Another successful personal effort was spearheading the painting of the highly visible Billicke Water Tower. It was peeling and dirty and had not been repainted in decades, she said. Since South Pasadena is certified as a Tree City USA, she insisted that a tree be included in the design imprinted on the tower.
Cohen supported the anti-710 freeway crusade and flew to the state capitol in Sacramento with the city manager to testify before both the Senate and Assembly transportation committees.
Despite her many activities, she was a voracious reader and traveled widely in the United States, Europe and the Far East.
Cohen and her late husband, Jerry, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, had three children. A son, William, died in 1993. Survivors include daughters Jamey (John) and grandsons Liam and Gavin Allman and Cassy (David) and grandson Jake Muronaka. Services will be private.