A college gathering in 1935 proved to be a fortuitous meeting for Berte and Bernie Cohen as they soon after began building a –partnership that would reward not only them, but all those with whom they came in contact. Early in their marriage, the Cohens developed a strong and shared belief in community service, volunteering for many civic groups, while simultaneously managing their family jewelry business, raising two daughters, and found a new business venture.
They seemed to have the Midas touch. Their many community interests included the United Way, Historic Bethlehem, Inc., Lehigh, Berte’s alma mater, Moravian College, the Chamber of Commerce, the Bethlehem Planning Commission, and the Sister City Committee, which have all grown and prospered. And that new business venture, Piercing Pagoda, became an ear piercing/jewelry business chain with operations in more than 40 states.
Their outstanding generosity to Lehigh, in addition to their expansive interest in and knowledge of the world, has brought numerous international scholars and guest to campus as part of the annual Cohen International Relations Lecture Series. They also endowed the Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Chair in International Relations in the College of Arts and Sciences. Bernie received the Alumni Award, the Alumni Association’s highest honor, in 1986 and an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, in 1990. He passed away in 2000.