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Sibyl R. Schwartz Cohen, Teacher, Philosopher and Activist, Dies at 78

November 16, 2006
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Sibyl Cohen

Sibyl Ruth Schwartz Cohen, 78, who recently retired from teaching at Rutgers University-Camden and LaSalle University, died Nov. 1.

Rutgers-Camden honored her with an adjunct teaching excellence award, now named after her.

Cohen was one of the first women to graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1949, having attended school there when women were not allowed in the library unescorted. Though accepted to Penn law school, she decided to focus on family, and later returned to Temple University, where she earned a Ph.D. in philosophy.

For more than 40 years, Cohen was active in Great Books, where she helped to organize, lead discussion groups and train new leaders. She also worked with One Book, One Philadelphia, and was currently leading reading groups at Rittenhouse Square and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (where she also trained leaders so that other reading groups could be formed in horticultural groups around the country).

In addition, Cohen devoted 20 years to organizing Rutgers AAUP-AFT.

She earned the Distinguished Service Award for her union work and for her creative negotiating for the part-time faculty.

Cohen was an active member of the Center City Kehillah and Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir. The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation had recently honored her for her work. She was also an active member of MoveOn.org, working to bring out voters in her Center City district.

She was also a supporter and friend of many cultural, political and charitable organizations.

Cohen is survived by daughters Janet Cohen and Elisabeth Bass; son Larry Cohen; brother Harry K. Schwartz; five grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Henry B. Cohen, in 1985.

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