Philadelphia, PA, USA. June 29th 2018. Goodbye Walt..
It seems that painful news just keeps coming.. With profound sadness we heard from across the ocean of the sudden passing of our very dear Professor D. Walter Cohen.
Walter touched so many lives and his passing has left a huge void in the world of dentistry, not to mention here at our journal “Actualităţi Stomatologice”, where he was our Honorary President. As his lifelong friend, the late Adi Garfunkel used to say, absolutely and categorically, without Walter’s great encouragement almost 20 years ago, „Actualităţi” would never have passed the project phase. In 1999, as Chief Editor of „Compendium”, the prestigious American Journal of Continuing Education in Dentistry which is run by the devoted Dan Perkins, Professor Walter Cohen lent his unconditional support to the idea that Romanian dentists should also have access to the clinical and practical information published by their American counterparts.
For those who knew Walter, his unconditional support was not a surprise. He would guide without overwhelming and he could motivate people to fulfill their potential; he was authoritarian when needed but always with respect and enormous kindness. Walter was, simply put, revered in every community he was involved with, beeing recognized and accepted as a true leader; which is not self–evident in today’s world where success creates envy.
The professional accomplishments of D. Walter Cohen are numerous enough to fill many pages and any search will reveal the extent of his exceptional career. As someone fortunate enough to have witnessed Walter’s charismatic personality over the years, I have chosen to write about the man behind the legend. Prof. Cohen was a pioneer in the field of dentistry – the father of the perio-prosthesis specialty. As a teacher he was loved by his students and was really a true mentor; he was greatly admired and respected by generations of doctors; he was an innovative Dean who made history and a highly esteemed president of several universities.
Walter disregarded geographic borders with his wish to create oportunities for his peers, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. He modestly accepted that international institutions, foundations, congresses and prizes would bear his name, in recognition of perfectionism in the profession he loved and developed.
Walter was a born aristocrat, highly cultured and a connoisseur of the arts, a true humanitarian and phillanthropist. Above all, he was a caring family man and a unique friend, the kind of friend you know you have for life.
In July 2007, the renowned Walter Cohen arrived in Bucharest to receive, with excitement, the official recognition of his merits from Carol Davila University which granted him the Doctor Honoris Causa title. He honored this prestigious title – how else – by initiating a marathon conference with dentistry stars, his ex-students, who accepted his invitation to celebrate together with him and their Romanian colleagues. The „Gold Event”, held in Bucharest on July 6th 2007, was truly an unforgetable one that Walter presided over with the pride of an accomplished teacher. We, the public, were enriched with a once-in-a-lifetime experience which confirmed that the legend of worlwide dentistry appreciated, respected and supported us!
This year, at the end of June, Walter sadly parted from us to the heavens. I am sure that he is reunited with his soul brother, Adi and that they continue the special friendship that bonded them in life. By Walter’s side, until the very end, was Claire Reichlin – his life partner, his dearest friend and his great love – a special person, a career woman, a lady in the most beautiful sense of the word. They were such a remarkable couple, that when you were with them, you wished time would standstill.
For those of us who were privileged and lucky enough to enjoy the warmth of Walt’s friendship, the tears will never stop. For our journal’s team it is an obligation to continue in the spirit of Walter. For the Actualităţi’s readers, who received and will continue to enjoy a piece of Professor Walter Cohen, his memory is a precious gift.
Although the times they are a-changin’ we are grateful to have been contemporaries of the legend that is D. Walter Cohen. THANK YOU, Walter!