Harvey Cohen, a beloved San Bernardino High School graduate and inland journalist, died on April 24 at Redlands Community Hospital of kidney failure, his brother Gary Cohen said.
Cohen was 70 years old.
Rabble-rouser, sportsman, music lover, collector, serious journalist, loyal friend, loving brother, local historian and champion of the oppressed – Cohen was all of those things. Mostly he was cherished by those in the greater San Bernardino area and beyond.
“Harvey was a unique character, a hipster from a different planet, and one of the coolest cats ever to roam San Bernardino,” Cohen’s friend, Dennis Pope of Riverside, said on Twitter.
Tweeted Cohen friend Angelo Mazzo: “To tell you how good Harvey was, the car broke down in Big Pine. He drove up to us and picked us up and dragged the car to San Bernardino. What a man. God bless you.”
For the past 15 years, Cohen has lived quietly in a mobile park at the foot of Yucaipa. He worked part-time as a sports reporter for the weekly Yucaipa-Calimesa News Mirror. He also freelances for the San Bernardino Sun and several smaller newspapers at various times.
“Harvey was an important part of the Yucaipa High football games,” said Thunderbirds coach Justin Price. “He has played more than 100 games since I started coaching. He kept things positive during difficult times and traveled with the team. He is missed.”
Yucaipa resident Patrick Mills, who is also the athletic director of San Bernardino High, appreciated Cohen’s balanced approach.
“What made him great,” said Mills, “was that it didn’t matter if he interviewed a big leaguer like Matt Davidson or a little kid who won a black belt. Both got the star treatment.”
Cohen graduated from San Bernardino High in 1967 and then attended San Bernardino Valley College and Orange Coast College. He transferred to Cal State Fullerton, where he obtained a master’s degree in political science.
After graduating, Cohen held several jobs, including working for the Santa Fe Railroad, the Los Angeles Water and Power Department, and toil as a merchant on shrimp boats in Texas. He also ran an entertainment newspaper, “The Harvest Moon,” in Port Arthur, Texas.
Cohen loved to travel and went back east more than 50 years ago, said longtime friend Tom Wilson who now lives in Ashland, Ore.
“I saw him one day in 1969 in San Bernardino,” said Wilson. “He said he was in New York State and they had a big music festival there. It was Woodstock.”
Cohen owned a succession of thrift stores that started in the 1990s and spanned the new millennium, the last of which was Harvey’s Wallhangers on Sierra Avenue in San Bernardino. Sitting on an easy chair in the middle of his shop, he liked to watch sporting events or listen to rock ‘n’ roll and blues music while working. Friends often came by to say hello.
Cohen, a former baseball player, also served as a coach for Wildwood Little League in San Bernardino for several years.
His childhood friend Wilson, who recently summed up his old friend on a 1967 San Bernardino High Class site (www.sbhs1967.com), wrote: “Harvey was his own husband and lived his life on his own terms. He stood his ground against the crowd. I always tried to say something funny to him so I could hear his heartbreaking smile. The air is crying at my house and so am I. ‘
Cohen was preceded to death by his parents David and Mildred of San Bernardino. He is survived by his sister Candi Cohen, brothers Gary and Larry Cohen and cousins. His brothers and sisters have talked about scattering his ashes (he’s cremated) at a local baseball diamond and are considering a memorial service once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.