Originally printed in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, November 30, 2004.
Andrew J. Cohen, a legal aid lawyer here for nearly two decades, died Friday of complications from a brain hemorrhage at Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y. He was 44.
Mr. Cohen, who grew up in Pearl River, N.Y., and earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1982, came to Chicago after receiving his law degree from New York University in 1985 to work in poverty law, said his wife of 13 years, Diane M. Pezanoski. He found a job working in the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago's West Side intake office — and never left.
'He never wanted to do anything else except help poor people,' Pezanoski said. 'This was what he wanted to do.'
Mr. Cohen met Pezanoski, a deputy corporation counsel for the City of Chicago, while the two were attending the National Institute for Trial Advocacy at Northwestern University in 1989. They married in 1991, and nine years ago twins Anna Rachel and Gabriel were born. The family lives in the Sauganash Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side.
Diana C. White, deputy director of the Legal Assistance Foundation, said Mr. Cohen was a skilled attorney who 'knew more than anybody on the planet about his specialty areas.' He focused in public benefits and Social Security law, and became the supervisory attorney for those areas in 1997, White said.
Mr. Cohen was slated to receive the organization's Equal Justice Award at a holiday party next week, White said.
In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Cohen is survived by his parents, Marilyn and Elliott of West Nyack, N.Y.; a brother, Russell, of Burr Ridge; and a sister, Diana Churchill, of Wachtung, N.J.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, 303 Dodge Ave., Evanston. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, 9900 N. Gross Point Road.
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