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Fundraiser to help after wife’s sudden passing.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Police Officer David Cohen was just two days on the job when his world was turned upside down. His wife, Jamie, died after a sudden illness, leaving Cohen alone to raise two young children in a new town.
But an online fundraising site was quickly established and has drawn nearly $50,000 in donations from many, including police officers at both his former job in Asheville and in Wake Forest.
“He’s actually only worked one shift for Wake Forest,” Cohen’s former supervisor, Asheville Police Lt. Janice Hawkins said when reached by phone. “He was well liked by his coworkers and the public. It gave us a lot of comfort here knowing that his new department is supporting him.”
Jamie Cohen died March 19 after an unexpected illness, a friend wrote in the message at the fundraising site, giveforward.com. She was 30 years old. Cohen had just taken a new job in Wake Forest so they could live closer to Jamie’s family in Rocky Mount. They have two young boys, Asher and Mason.
The funeral was Sunday in Tarboro. Two Wake Forest chaplains, Sgt. Brown and Officer Lawson, helped perform the funeral ceremony and Wake Forest had about 20 other personnel attend along with a few of their spouses. The new motorcycle units led the precession, Wake Forest Public Information Officer Bill Crabtree said.
A friend of Jamie’s who spoke at the service described her as a loyal friend, Hawkins related.
“She clearly had a lot of friends. Everybody talked about her devotion to her boys. She was very devoted to her family,” Hawkins noted.
Jamie was in the a Fraternal Order of Police auxillary in Asheville and was working to establish a Fraternal Order of Police chapter there when they moved.
Cohen had worked for the Asheville Police Department for three years and was considered a senior officer.
But his benefits, including family leave, terminated after his last day of employment. Since he began at the Wake Forest Police Department last week, he does not yet qualify for benefits, the fundraising page reported.
Aside from funeral expenses, Cohen will now be faced with the time and effort of rearing his children alone, as well as associated childcare costs.
“Knowing there’s expenses coming down the road for him … you want to give him some kind of financial comfort, a little money so he has some breathing room,” said Hawkins. “There was a great deal of officer contributions from the Asheville Police Department and Wake Forest Police Department and other agencies that may know David and his wife.”
Having heard that Cohen is getting significant support from Wake Forest police is something of a balm, she added.
“We are heartbroken by the sudden passing of Jamie Cohen. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave and their sons Asher and Mason and the entire Cohen family,” Wake Forest Police Chief Jeff Leonard said in a statement. “The Wake Forest Police Department is a family, and anytime we lose one of our members, we all mourn. The fact that Jamie was so young and that she leaves behind a husband and two small children makes her passing even harder to understand. Yet it reminds us how important it is that we tell our loved ones every day we love them.”
Cohen posted a comment on Facebook Saturday, after the outpouring of support. It was reposted on the fundraising page. In addition to thanking people for their support, including his “blue family” both old and new, he described the situation surrounding their move to Wake Forest.
“When we decided to move to Wake Forest, she was so happy she could not contain herself. We were going to be closer to family and friends. She also loved the idea of being closer to ECU. We had talked about going to home games and introducing the boys to our beloved Pirates. She was excited for this new step in my career,” he wrote, describing his wife as a peacemaker who could make anything better. “I liked to think I was the rock in our family but it was always Jamie.”
“The amount of support all you have shown is mind-boggling,” he added. “I’m so thankful for all of you and the kind words you’ve said about Jamie. … She is my soul mate and my eternal love. I miss her so much and my heart is just broken without her. But the support you have all shown has lifted my spirit in a long way.”
The fundraising page is at tiny.cc/helpthecohens.