Carole Goldstein Cohen died peacefully at her home in Washington, D.C., in the early morning of April 23 after a short illness. She had turned 78 on April 9. A part-time resident of Chilmark, she was active in community affairs on the Island, including at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and the Donors Collaborative.
A native of New York city, Carole grew up in Detroit and lived in Boston, Chicago, Long Island and, most recently, in Washington, D.C. and Chilmark. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1957 and was an active alumna throughout her life. She had an insatiable intellect and worked tirelessly on behalf of her communities. She spent more than 35 years in university advancement work and nonprofit management. She was vice president for external affairs at the University of Massachusetts, associate chancellor for development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, vice president for university affairs at SUNY Stony Brook, president of the Stony Brook Foundation and president of the American Kidney Fund. Earlier in her career she was New England regional director of Common Cause.
Her work on nonprofit boards included serving with Iona Senior Services and Green Spaces for D.C. in Washington, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative. She was past president of the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center and also served a term as chairman of the center’s prestigious Summer Institute.
“Carole left an indelible mark on the Summer Institute. Her keen intelligence and unerring good judgment helped to enrich our programs and improve the intellectual and cultural life of the Vineyard. She will be sorely missed,” Geri Alpert, current chairman of the institute, wrote in an email to the Gazette.
“As a founding member of the Donors Collaborative, she used her depth of knowledge and unique vision to increase Vineyard philanthropy and help strengthen Vineyard nonprofits both large and small,” wrote Inez Janger, the organization’s president, in an email.
“This is going to be a tremendous loss to the Vineyard,” said Susan Wasserman, a West Tisbury resident and former board president at Community Services, who spoke with the Gazette by telephone about Mrs. Cohen. “She was a tremendous asset to the board. She agreed to do an extra couple of years for me, and the reason I was so interested in having her continue is she had a unique perspective on development and raising funds because she had been on both sides. She had extensive professional experience and she brought that to nonprofit programs on the Vineyard at a time when we didn’t have great deal of development experience,” Mrs. Wasserman said. She added:
“And she cared. The thing that I think about seasonal residents is they love the Vineyard, but they don’t necessarily get involved. Carole was different. She was a generous friend, but way, way beyond anything monetarily, that generosity extended to her understanding the plight of year-round residents and how important Community Services was for them. She loved the Vineyard for the beauty and her husband’s sails and they loved having a place for their grandchildren to come, but it was also about being . . . tuned in. I’m personally saddened.”
Carole was the beloved wife of Dr. Jordan J. Cohen; mother of Deborah Rappaport and her husband Andy, Joel Cohen and his wife Mavis Prall Cohen, and David Cohen and his wife Suzy Friedman Cohen; and grandmother of Rebecca Rappaport, Sara Rappaport, Leah Rappaport, Sam Cohen, Julia Cohen, Zeke Cohen, Rachel Cohen and Elizabeth Prall.
A private memorial will be held in Washington, D.C., on May 12. In lieu of flowers, donations in Carole’s memory may be made to Iona Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016; or Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, 111 Edgartown Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.