Late Cleveland mayor honored with downtown revitalization marker

Family, friends and city leaders stand beside a marker honoring the late Cleveland Mayor Otis Cohn who died on March 6, 2020, after a battle with cancer. On March 4, 2021, nearly one year to the date of his passing, a marker honoring Cohn was unveiled at the corner of N. Travis and E. Crockett streets in Cleveland.

“Cleveland, if you know about it, crow about it.”

That phrase was coined by the late Cleveland Mayor Otis Cohn, who died on March 6, 2020, after a battle with cancer. During his two terms as a city councilman and two terms as mayor, Cohn publicly challenged residents and business leaders to share the good news about Cleveland as a way of offsetting negative publicity the city received from Houston media in recent years.

On Thursday, March 4, almost one year to the day of his passing, Cohn’s family, friends and city leaders gathered at the corner of N. Travis and E. Crockett streets for the unveiling of a marker that notes the phrase and recognizes Cohn’s commitment to the revitalization of downtown Cleveland. The marker is located directly across from the law office Cohn once shared with his sister, Attorney Mollie Lambert. Mollie and Otis are the children of Sadie Cohn and the late Cleveland attorney Malcolm Cohn.

Family members of the late Otis Cohn on Thursday, March 4, unveil a marker honoring Cohn for his service to the community. Cohn was mayor of Cleveland at the time of his death on March 6, 2020, following a valiant battle with cancer. Pictured with the family members – Scott Lamber, Sadie Cohn, Anna Claire Lambert, Mollie Lambert and Cohn’s widow, Mary Merrill Cohn – is Mayor Richard Boyett (right).

The historical marker was organized by the City of Cleveland with Mayor Richard Boyett presiding at the unveiling ceremony.

“Over the years, Mayor Cohn faithfully served the members of this city as both a city councilman and mayor. Cohn was instrumental in leading us to transform downtown, part of this is where we are standing today,” Boyett said. “Otis was proud of this city and its citizens.”

Boyett shared how he was approached by City leaders after the former mayor’s death and urged to finish out Cohn’s unexpired term in office.

“I know how much Otis loved Cleveland. I knew I had big shoes to fill,” said Boyett, adding that he hated to lose a friend when Cohn died.

Cohn’s widow, Mary Merrill Cohn, the director of Austin Memorial Library in Cleveland, told the group gathered that she intends to donate to the city a cherished sign that once belonged to her husband. The wooden sign, created by Liberty County Clerk Lee Haidusek Chambers, is painted with the phrase Cohn coined during one of his State of the City addresses.

His widow says the sign has been hanging on the wall of their home above the chair he once used and that it belongs to the city now.

His sister, Mollie, added, “All of the press that Cleveland got was usually bad news. Friends of mine, when I worked in Houston, would say, ‘My god, you live in this terrible place.’ There was always bad stuff coming from it. That was the point of ‘know about it, crow about it.’ We need to announce those good things, talk about those good things so our city’s reputation fits with what we know this city is all about.”

Family members of the late Cleveland Mayor Otis Cohn were overjoyed to see him honored with a marker recognizing his service to the community. The marker is placed at the corner of N. Travis and E. Crockett streets across from the law office Cohn once shared with his sister, Attorney Mollie Lambert.
Otis Cohn loved the City of Cleveland and coined the phrase, “If you know about it, crow about it.” During his life, particularly his time as mayor of Cleveland, he encouraged the community and business leaders to share with others the good things that happen in Cleveland, Texas.

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