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Joan B. Cohen, 76, Editor at the 'Exponent,' Public-Relatio​ns Maven

December 24, 2009
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Joan Barbara Cohen, 76, a public-relations executive and former Jewish Exponent editor, died Dec. 1.

The former Joan Friedman, she was a resident of Shannondell in Audubon for the past three years. She previously lived for 43 years in Plymouth Meeting.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Cohen attended Temple University, and was editor of the Temple News and president of the Temple ADA chapter. Upon graduating in 1954 with a degree in journalism, she worked for the Jewish Exponent, serving simultaneously as the society editor under the name "Joan Friedman"; the children's editor as "Aunt Barbara"; and the cooking editor as "Polly Pantry," while also writing obituaries. A highlight of her career was a one-on-one interview with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Cohen left the Exponent in 1957 to raise her family. When her children were grown, she founded the Newmarket Agency, a public-relations and advertising firm. Combining dry wit with her appreciation of language, Newmarket's motto was: "We Eschew Obfuscation."

Cohen was also an accomplished pianist and music lover, playing by ear from age 5. While her children were young, she was music and drama director at several camps in the Poconos. In recent years, she volunteered to start a sing-along for the residents of the Meadows, a rehabilitation facility at Shannondell.

Cohen worked for a number of volunteer organizations over the years.

A former board member of the American Heart Association, she chaired the annual Heart Ball in 1992. She was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, the Humane Society and NOW.

She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Ralph D. Cohen; daughters Beth Cohen and Amy Cohen; son David Cohen; as well as five grandchildren.

Donations in her memory can be made to: Philabundance, 3616 S. Galloway St., Philadelphia, PA 19148.

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