|Birth: ||Jan. 5, 1931|
|Death: ||Feb. 25, 2010|
Aaron Cohen was the Acting Deputy Administrator of NASA between 19 February 1992 and 1 November 1992. He was Professor Emeritus of Mechanical at Texas A&M University. Professor Aaron Cohen was born in Corsicana, Texas, on 5 January 1931. He received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1952 and an M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1958. He received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology (1982) and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Houston-Clear Lake (UH-CL) (1989). In August 1993, Professor Cohen was appointed H.B. Zachry Professor of Engineering at Texas A&M University, where he taught senior mechanical engineering design. In August 2000 he became a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering.
Professor Cohen served as Director of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, culminating a career that began there in 1962. He held several positions leading to his appointment as Manager of the Command and Service Module in the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office. In 1972, he was named Space Shuttle Orbiter Project Manager, responsible for design, development, production, and test flights. In 1982, as Director of Research and Engineering, he directed and managed all engineering and life science research and development. In 1986, Professor Cohen was named Center Director, directing approximately 3,600 NASA employees and 14,000 support contractor personnel. In addition, he served for a year as the Acting Deputy Administrator of NASA. Professor Cohen was a Fellow of American Astronautical Society (AAS), an Honorary Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and an Honorary Fellow in American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. At NASA, he was awarded two Exceptional Service Medals, two Outstanding Leadership Medals, and four Distinguished Service Medals. Other awards include Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive for Senior Executive Service (SES) (1981); Distinguished Executive for SES (1982, 1988); AAS' W. Randolph Lovelace II Award, Space Flight Award, and President's Certificate of Recognition; AIAA Von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management; Goddard Astronautics Award (1996); Von Karman Lectureship in Astronautics; 1984 ASME Medal; Texas A&M College of Engineering Alumni Honor Award (1987), Distinguished Alumni Award (1989); and UH-CL Distinguished Leadership Award (1988). He was elected a member of National Academy of Engineering (1988), was a joint recipient of the 1989 Goddard Memorial Trophy, and was awarded the Gold Knight of Management Award, NMA Texas Gold Coast Council (1989). He received the Senior Executives Association Professional Development League Executive Excellence Award for Distinguished Executive Service and the National Space Trophy from the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation, and the 1992 Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership from The American University. Professor Cohen authored many articles for scientific and technical journals and publications and presented the Lawrence Hargrave Lecture at the International Aerospace Congress in 1991. He died after a prolonged illness on Feb. 25, 2010
Born in Corsicana, Texas on Jan. 5, 1931
Died Feb. 25, 2010 and resided in College Station, TX.
Service: Monday, Mar. 1, 2010
Funeral Home: Porter Loring Mortuary
Cemetery: Agudas Achim Memorial Gardens
January 5, 1931 – February 25, 2010
Aaron Cohen, 79, of College Station passed away on Thursday, February 25, 2010, in College Station, Texas. Funeral service will be provided by Porter Loring in San Antonio. Services will take place at Congregation Agudas Achim, located at 16550 Huebner in San Antonio. Graveside services will follow at the Agudas Achim Memorial Gardens, located at 1727 Austin Highway in San Antonio. Rabbi Leonardo Bitran and Hazzan Jeremy Lipton will officiate the services.
Aaron was born on January 5, 1931, in Corsicana, Texas, to immigrant Russian parents Charles and Ida Cohen. College Station and Corsicana, two small Texas communities, are 118 miles apart, but that is not the measure of Aaron's life journey. His life was devoted to learning and teaching, to finding new ways to do old things better, and to finding ways to do new things that had never been done at all, always with the highest professional and personal ethical and moral standards. He traveled all over the world, working with the giants of the United States space program and meeting the rich and famous on numerous occasions. To the end, he was the same humble man.
At the age of five, Aaron moved with his parents and two sisters, Ann and Libbye, to San Antonio. Though he had not lived in San Antonio since 1948, he always considered it home. Friends he made there remained his friends throughout his life. When he was a teenager, his brother-in-law, Joe Birnbaum, gave him a used wooden tennis racquet and introduced Aaron to the game of tennis. As a poor kid growing up in San Antonio, Aaron would ride his bicycle to the tennis courts at San Pedro Park, hoping to find someone who would hit tennis balls with him and help him develop his game. And develop his game he did! In 1948, representing Thomas Jefferson High School, Aaron won the state boys high school tennis title at a tournament in Dallas. It was also in San Antonio, at 16, that Aaron met his wife-to-be, Ruth, 14, and for them that was the beginning of a lifelong love and their marriage in 1953.
In 1949, Aaron enrolled at Texas A&M University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1952. Many classmates became lifelong friends. That Aggie bond is not a mythical thing; it really does exist. To this day his friend Skip Johnson says that if it hadn't been for Aaron Cohen, Skip would have never earned his degree. Aaron played on the freshman tennis team but then decided to concentrate on his studies. For that he was elected to Phi Eta Sigma and Tau Beta Pi, honorary academic societies.
Upon completion of his ROTC military obligation, including a tour of duty in Korea, Aaron began his engineering career at the Radio Corporation of America in 1954. Here he contributed to the development of a magnetron tube which would be the heart of a revolutionary new kitchen appliance, which we all know and own today, the microwave oven. Also, with two colleagues at RCA, Aaron was awarded a U.S patent for work on a cathode ray tube for color television. For this, the three men shared the princely sum of $100.
Three life changing events occurred during the four years that Aaron was employed at RCA. It was during this period that he and Ruth became parents. His daughter, Nancy, was born in 1956 and his son, David, was born in 1958. While working full-time, Aaron completed a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J., in 1958. In October 1957, the Russians launched Sputnik, ushering in the space age. Aaron knew that this was an area in which he wanted to be involved.
In 1958, Aaron and his family moved to San Diego, Calif., where he worked for General Dynamics on the Atlas and Centaur programs. His son, Daniel, was born there in 1960. When NASA announced its program to send men to the moon, Aaron could not resist the challenge to join the effort. This he did, moving with his family to Houston in 1962.
Aaron had a remarkable career at the Manned Spacecraft Center, later renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Beginning there as "the new kid on the block," Aaron held increasingly important jobs. He was manager of the Command Module for the Apollo program and the Shuttle Orbiter Project; he led the Research and Engineering Directorate; and in 1986 was named director of the Johnson Space Center, a post he held until his retirement in 1993. In his last year with NASA, Aaron also served as Acting Deputy Administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. During his career he experienced great tragedy and also incredible success. He never forgot the lessons learned from the tragedies, and he was always quick to share his success with his colleagues.
It is worth noting that the three schools he attended, Jefferson High School, Texas A&M University and Stevens Institute of Technology, each awarded Aaron its highest honor. In 1982, Stevens conferred upon him an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. In 1989, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus and received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Texas A&M University. And in 2007, Aaron was named a charter member of the "Hall of Fame" established by Jefferson High School.
Throughout his career he received numerous state, national and international awards and medals and honors, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and the Rotary National Space Trophy. He had the unique honor of receiving four NASA Distinguished Service medals. Aaron considered his election to membership in the National Academy of Engineering his most prestigious recognition. But a recent honor rivals the NAE membership; in a ceremony in Aaron's home on January 23, 2010, Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Texas A&M University's interim president, presented him with a Doctor of Letters from his university. This honor is rarely given by the university, the citation commended him for his contributions to the nation's space program, as well as his contributions to Texas A&M University.
In 1993, Aaron began a second career, as the H.B. Zachry Professor of Engineering in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. Coming back to A&M to give back to the university in that capacity was a huge thrill for Aaron. Although he had never taught before then, he soon realized that working with young engineering students was both a challenge and an honor and he very quickly found his voice in the classroom. Many of his students have stayed in touch with him, and he took special pride in seeing some of his students begin their professional lives at the Johnson Space Center. In 2000, Aaron retired as a professor emeritus, but stayed involved in academic life. He and Ruth continued to live in College Station.
While Aaron's career and professional life were of great importance and satisfaction for him, it was his family that was the core of his life.
Survivors include his wife, Ruth; three children and spouses, Nancy and Sam Santana, David and Miriam Cohen and Daniel and Joan Cohen; his adored and adoring nine grandchildren, Cara and Sammy Santana, Ariela, Rachel, Gabi, and Brooke Cohen and Carolyn, Brian, and Natalie Cohen.
His grandchildren brought so much pleasure and joy to his life, and he treasured the time and travel that he spent with them. He and Ruth were blessed to have an exceptional love and a strong marriage. His good friend, Henry Pohl, in his typical country-boy way, once said that Aaron and Ruth were "like two crowder peas in a pod."
Aaron and Ruth were privileged to travel throughout the world, from Australia to Russia and points in between, seeing places and things they never expected to see when they started their marriage with little money but with much hope and ambition along with a good mind and an education to make their future bright.
Aaron is also survived by his sister Ann's children, Sandra Levinson, Mike Birnbaum, Bob Birnbaum and Barry Birnbaum, and by his sister Libbye's children, Brad Reich and Pamela Reich.
Pallbearers will be Mr. Louis Belinsky, Dr. Morris Spector, Mr. David Wolf, Mr. Sam Santana, Mr. Sammy Santana and Mr. Brian Cohen.
For those wishing to make a donation in memory of Aaron, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Aaron Cohen Engineering Scholarship Fund at Texas A&M, which his wife and children established in honor of his 60th birthday. Checks should be made payable to the Texas A&M Foundation and mailed to 401 George Bush Dr., College Station, TX 77840-2811, with the scholarship's name noted on the check. Others may prefer to donate to Hospice Brazos Valley, which provided great comfort and kindness to Aaron in his final days. The address is 502 W. 26th St., Bryan, TX 77803.
Ruth Caroline Goldberg Cohen (1933 - 2013)*
Agudas Achim Memorial Gardens
Created by: K
Record added: Feb 28, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48920890