Otis Malcolm Cohn lost his valiant four and one/half year battle with Stage IV colorectal cancer on March 6, 2020. Otis was born on October 2, 1957 in Houston Texas to his loving parents Otis Malcolm Cohn, Sr. and Sadie Majnik Cohn. He was a greatly cherished child with beautiful brown eyes and long eyelashes with a quick, wide smile. He was a smart young man who started his education in the Cleveland Independent School District. Otis was a cub scout and formed many lasting friendships there. He later moved to the Tarkington Independent School District in 6th grade. Coming with him in the move was his younger sister, Nina and his baby sister Mollie.
During those years at Tarkington, Otis was a straight A student, was the Valedictorian of his 8th grade class and the Salutatorian of his Senior class. He competed academically in many events including Spelling, Ready Writing, Newswriting and History, to name a few. He competed at the state level in Spelling and Editorial Writing. He also played football as a center and earned the nickname Big “O.” Upon graduation in 1976, he continued his education at Stephen F. Austin State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1980. Then, following in his Dad’s footsteps, he started law school at South Texas College of Law. Unsure if he wanted to practice law, he left school for a few years and worked at First Bank & Trust. One of his bosses told him he was meant for bigger things and should go back to law school and he did, graduating in 1990 with doctor of jurisprudence. He returned to his beloved Cleveland and practiced law with his Dad.
Otis was a great attorney who truly loved his clients. He charged little for his work and for some, he charged nothing. He helped many in need during this time, with a sympathetic ear or some money that he had little of and never expected it to be paid back. He practiced continuously until the cancer and the medications required to keep it at bay prevented him from continuing to practice. He was blessed to have many call, write and come visit him during his final illness.
Otis was a great collector. He loved shopping at Bruce’s (or what was formally called Second Chance). He unearthed many treasures there and at other shops. Both his Mom and Dad taught him the art and love of collecting. He also loved making models, particularly airplanes, and was very precise in his working, sharing this love with many others. He loved reading and movies and anything science fiction. Then another love came into his life. Otis met Mary. Neither had ever been married – both were a little older. But love is sweet at any age and the lawyer, Otis Cohn, and the librarian, Mary Merrell, found that love they had found their soul mate. The other old shoe to make the perfect pair, comfortable that fit perfect. Otis and Mary were married on October 9, 2010. The two truly became one and they were ready for a new life together. They traveled, they loved their families, including their four-legged family, were season ticket holders to the theater and became active in city politics. They loved those who were friends and they quickly became part of the Cohn family.
Otis served two terms on the city council before running for mayor. He was in his second term as mayor at the time of his death. Otis was proud of his city and the citizens of Cleveland. He coined the phrase “Cleveland if you know about it, crow about it.” Otis believed that the only news being repeated was bad news, but there was so much more good news in Cleveland than bad. Mayor Cohn was a relentless supporter of his community.
Otis will be missed by all who knew him and loved him. Otis is preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, M.A. and Nina Cohn, his maternal grandparents, John and Annie Majnik, his father, Otis Malcolm Cohn, Sr., and his sister, Nina Ann Cohn and Grand nephew Jacob Wixted. He is survived by his wife, Mary Cohn, his mother, Sadie Cohn, his sister, Mollie Cohn Lambert, his brother-in-law, Scott Lambert, his nieces, Anna Claire Lambert (Uncle Otis was her biggest fan in softball, music and pretty much anything she did), Sarah Gaskins, Jan’ee Merrell, Ruby Merrell, his nephews, Christopher Merrell and Iain Bingham, grand niece Maya Wixted, grand nephew Caleb Merrell, great grand nephew Oliver Merrell, great grand nieces Aria and Anastasia Merrell. He was considered “Uncle Otis” to many.
The visitation will be at Pace-Stancil Funeral Home in Cleveland, Texas, Tuesday, March 10 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Services will be at Calvary Baptist Church in Cleveland, Texas, Wednesday, March 10, at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Otis’ memory to the Tarkington Student Foundation or the Charles Austin Memorial Library.
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