Elsie Cohn, 102, Shoah refugee, great-grandmother

When Elsie Cohn was 98 or 99, she was in the hospital, and Rabbi Gerald Raiskin went to visit her.

Cohn told the rabbi she thought maybe it was time to go.

"I said, 'No way, you're not going to cheat me out of a party," said Raiskin. "When her 100th birthday came, when I walked in, she gave me a big smile and said, 'I guess you got your party.' She had that sense of humor about things."

Cohn, a longtime member of Peninsula Temple Sholom, died on April 3 in San Mateo. She was 102.

Cohn, nee Cohen, was born in Meppen, Germany, on Feb. 22, 1901. Her father owned a mercantile emporium, and she was one of four children.

In 1928, she married Ludwig Cohn, a rancher. They had two children shortly after and moved to Salzkotten.

In 1938, her husband was arrested and taken to Buchenwald. He was held there for about six weeks and then released. The family fled Germany in 1940, coming first to New York and then to San Francisco.

Cohn had a passion for cooking, and she opened her own catering business called Elsie's Catering. She ran the business for about 15 years, cooking for both Jewish and non-Jewish events.

In 1955, the Cohns moved to Millbrae, and Cohn became an active member of the Conservative Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame and Women's American ORT.

"My mother always felt her greatest achievement in life were her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren," said her daughter, Lottie Miklos, of Millbrae. "Her love of her family was the most important thing to her. She always looked at her glass as half full and made the best of every day that she could possibly make."

Cohn moved into Sunrise of San Mateo, an assisted-living community, a few years ago, where she was a favorite among the residents, said Raiskin.

Cohn was predeceased by her husband in 1970. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by son Harry Cohn of Hillsborough, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Contributions in her memory can be made to Peninsula Temple Sholom, Donations to Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame, CA 94010, or to Sutter VNA Hospice, 700 S. Claremont Ave., No. 200, San Mateo, CA 94402.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."