The Legacy of Dorothy Cohen Lives on at the Library

A photo of an early 1990’s Library Fundraiser at the South Pasadena home of Philip and Sally Swan. (Left to right): City Librarian Mary Lou Wigley,  Friends Bookstore Co-Founder Sally Swan, Friends Bookstore Co-Founder Margaret Wallace, Friends Bookstore Co-Founder Sally Swan Dorothy Cohen,  Library Board of Trustees President Jane Cavanagh, and Friends President  Rosanna Wong Morimoto. Bookstore C-Founder Beverly Engler is not pictured. Courtesy photos

Following the passing of the beloved Dorothy Cohen earlier this year, Cohen’s family has donated to the South Pasadena Public Library and the Friends of the Library a number of books from the former Mayor’s personal collection, dozens of her framed awards and proclamations, and memorial donations.

Cohen passed away at age 92 on January 20, 2018, after devoting half of her very full life to the City of South Pasadena, and particularly to the Library during her last years. Cohen, a Co-Founder of the Friends Bookstore, served as its volunteer coordinator for 35 years. Cohen’s survivors include daughters Jamey (John) and grandson Liam and Gavin Allman, and Cassy (David) and Grandson Jake Muronaka.

Guests raising a glass to toast Dorothy Mahoney Cohen during the Dorothy Mahoney Cohen Remembrance celebration at the South Pasadena Community Center Saturday March 17, 2018.
Photo courtesy of the Family.

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018, a fittingly lively memorial for Dorothy was convened in the Library Community Room with a full house of family, friends, associates, expressing their admiration and reflections.

Cohen’s personal book collection, particularly strong in hardback mysteries, are still appearing at attractive prices in the Friends Bookstore in the Library, just as they have been for the last few weeks. Her awards and proclamations will be donated to the Local History Archives of the South Pasadena Public Library. Many of them will be used for a “Remembering Dorothy Cohen” exhibit in the Library display case during January 2009. 


Dorothy won both major statewide awards for volunteers at the California Library Association Annual Conference in Pasadena in 2009.


Dorothy Cohen’s impressive slate of awards includes:

• California Library Association. President’s Award Presented in. 2009 in appreciation for her contribution to California’s libraries.

• California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition commending Dorothy for her commitment to public service to the community of South Pasadena.

• City of South Pasadena 1997 Certificate of Appreciation presented by the City Council for Dorothy’s role as a General Plan Advisory Committee Member.

• City of South Pasadena Proclamation. The South Pasadena City Council commended Dorothy for her contributions as a City Council Member, April 12, 1994 – March 19, 2003.

• City of South Pasadena Proclamation. Twentieth Anniversary of Friends Bookstore Sunday, July 28, 2002.

• County of Los Angeles. Older Americans Recognition Day plaque presented to Dorothy in 2003 ii Recognition of Outstanding Volunteer Service rendered to the community

• National Trust for Historic Preservation 2000 President’s Award presented to the 710 Opposition Coalition for dedication and continued success in preserving the historic neighborhoods of South Pasadena, Pasadena, and El Sereno by leading the decades-long campaign preventing the construction of the Route 710  Freeway.

• Proclamation. The Congress of the United States House of Representatives  presented to Mayor Dorothy Cohen. South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce 4th of July 2000 Festival of Balloons Committee in recognition of her efforts in “Building a Better Community.”