Joel Cohen

Date of Death: 12/4/2018

Joel Cohen, 83, born in Altoona Pennsylvania, son of Joseph and Martha Cohen, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on December 4, 2018, succumbing to a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Joel is survived by his loving wife, Susan, children Brian (and Lisa) Cohen of State College PA, Sari (and Stephen) Taft of Potomac MD, grandchildren Jaxson Cohen, Hanna and Graham Taft, nephews Steven (and Penni) Fishbaine, Daniel Fishbaine, and Joel (and Susan) Fishbaine, as well as his sister Lynn Fishbaine of Altoona. He is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Martha Cohen, and his brother-in-law Arthur Fishbaine. 


Joel Cohen was well known and highly regarded in Altoona as the proprietor of the Young Mens Shop, a fine clothing store founded in 1926 by his father Joseph Cohen. Joel, and wife Susan, operated the Young Mens Shop which served the Greater Altoona area. Joel and Susan expanded and opened a store in State College, PA in 1982.  Together, they operated the stores for nearly 50 years before retiring and moving to Sacramento, California. The Young Mens Shop continues for a third generation under the name Harpers, owned by son Brian and daughter-in-law Lisa Cohen. 


Joel graduated from Altoona Area High School in 1953. He then attended the Pennsylvania Military College and Juniata College. As a young man, Joel was a Golden Gloves boxer and fought at various venues in Altoona. Joel served in the Army in 1958 and again from 1961-1962.  He married the love of his life Susan Bette Gamarel in 1961. 


Carrying on his father’s tradition, Joel was proud to present the Joe F. Cohen Blanket Award annually to football players from Altoona and Bishop Guilfoyle high schools, an award to the players who most exemplified integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field. This esteemed tradition was created by his father Joe in 1926 and is carried on today by Joel’s son, Brian, and grandson, Jaxson. The Blanket Award is believed to be the oldest football award in the country – older than the Heisman Trophy.


Upon moving to California, Joel founded Investment Retrievers with his long-time friend Sammy Cemo, a prominent businessman in Sacramento. Together they built Investment Retrievers into one of the most recognized and awarded firms of its type in the country. Joel, a natural born motivator, created opportunity for many employees who greeted him each day with a rousing, “Good morning, Joel!”. He inspired many to be the best they could be, and that legacy will live on. 


Joel had a lifelong passion for cars, from the 1960 Corvette he drove on his first date with Susan, who would soon become his wife, to the many Porsches he owned throughout his life. Two of his Porsches will continue to be driven by his children, who will remember him with love every time they drive his favorite car. 


He was a wine enthusiast and collector. He was a fierce and accomplished tennis player. He loved art, fashion, fine food, and sports. 


Joel was a man of boundless energy and optimism. He met all situations with humor and determination, qualities he has passed on to his entire family. Joel was adored by his wife, his children and their spouses, and his three grandchildren, who will all remember his tremendous wit and his penchant for practical jokes. 


Joel will travel back to Altoona to be buried with his parents at the Agudath Achim Cemetery.


Friends will be received from 10 am until an 11 am funeral service, Monday, December 10, 2018 at E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home, Inc., 2309 Broad Ave, Altoona, PA 16601 by Cantor Ben Matis.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joel’s memory to the Alzheimer’s Association 225 N. Michigan Avenue, Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601.



Joel Cohen by Jim Rothrock
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