In Memory

Louis Cohen

Via Peter Murao:

Date Deceased: 01-17-2017
Age at Death: 60

Louis was my very first friend. On the first day at Oakton elementary in the first grade I sat in the first desk, first row. Louis sat right next to me. We became friends that day and would be best friends at Oakton, each year closer than the next. Louis was the smartest boy in the class each and every year. He was always the teacher’s favorite, which is not to say he was a teacher’s “pet”. Louis was just so bright and mature; I think he was like having another adult in the room for the teacher’s to talk to. I was so proud to be best friends with Louis. In the fourth grade Louis, Sammy Flores and I formed an ad hoc “party ticket” to run for the student council. We worked on our posters and speeches together and of course Louis became the school SC President of Oakton. We literally “ruled” Oakton as fifth graders; at least in our minds. We were in different halls at ETHS, and gradually moved in different directions. He continued to excel academically, went to Stanford (duh), Northwestern Law, and on to a prominent career in law right here in Chicago. I moved away. We were not in contact as adults. When Louis found out that I signed up to attend the 40th reunion he contacted me immediately. We exchanged messages, then telephone calls, fondly recalling our close friendship, regretting our lost contact, excitedly planned our reunion within the reunion. Somewhere along the line, he had become Lou. I told him he would always be Louis to me. He laughed and told me I could be one of the few to call him Louis; a 50+ year friendship prerogative. At the reunion, even half way through the event, I assured our common Oakton classmates that Louis would be there. “Don’t worry, he’s coming. I spoke to him. He’s coming.” He never made it. Turns out he was summoned to George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch in California for a last minute working retreat. Excuuuse me. Louis was working with George’s team to develop the Lucas museum in Chicago. I told him that I cancelled a meeting with Spielberg to be there; it was the least he could do. I’m sure Louis had become the top lawyer in his field. By all accounts an impressive, stellar career. To me though, my friend was underperforming. I thought he would be POTUS by now. He must not have wanted it because there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he could have been. Those Oakton-Chute years are locked in a time capsule deep in the recesses of my fading temporal lobe. I am grateful that we reconnected and cracked open that capsule together late in life. How can it be that it was for the last time already? Gone but not forgotten, ever. Miss you. RIP dear friend. Love, Peter

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01/24/17 10:08 PM #6    

Fredric Andes

That is a wonderful tribute by Peter.  I remember Louis as well, from a different perspective.  I moved into the school system in the middle of 7th grade.  Louis was one of the kids in my section.  He and the others really made me feel welcome, as just one of the group, and I really appreciated that.  He was, as everyone has said, incredibly bright.  And popular - but also friendly, and funny.  I really regret not having been in contact with him over the years - especially when I find that we both went away for school, became lawyers, and wound up practicing here in the Chicago area.  It is great that we have now, through this site, done more communicating among the group - I hope that we keep that up, since you never know when things will change... 

01/26/17 12:28 AM #7    

Erica (Riki) Lippitz

I am so shocked and saddened to read of Lou's passing. What a loss for his wife and kids. I knew him best through Beth Emet, as we both went to Israel on a student exchange program in our junior year.  Very much appreciate all the memories being shared here.  Life is precious, indeed.

01/26/17 08:49 AM #8    

Byron Schneidman

Shocked, horrified, then denial and then extremely sad. These are just some of the emotions I felt when I heard of the passing of Louis. I was friends with Louis for many years. We were together in Hebrew school and the youth group at Beth Emet, We were also together in the Jazz Band and Orchestra at Chute and ETHS. I played trumpet and Louis played the string bass. Louis excelled at everything he did. He was not only exceptional academically but also an exceptional musician. Erica, I remember when you and Louis won the scholarship for the trip to Israel at Beth Emet as you were both at the top of the class.   It was not surprising how smart Louis was. I remember that I stayed at his house overnight my freshman year at ETHS when my parents were out of town. For fun, his family would play the dictionary game after dinner, a game in which you would select words from the dictionary and see who knew the meaning and the spelling of the word. I did have the opportunity to see Louis about 10 years ago at DLA Piper where he was leading the real estate practice a very impressive position.  I am a tax partner at a CPA firm and happened to have a meeting there. It was great to catch up with him at the time. It is very sad that this will be the last time I will ever see him! Louis was a great friend during my childhood and will always be a part of me. Our future reunions will not be complete without him. I wish his family, friends and our fellow graduates my condolences.



01/26/17 10:53 AM #9    

Robert Gold

I am still reeling from this tragic news, and have been struggling to come up with words to express my feelings. While Lou and I grew up within two blocks of each other (along with Gail Schwartz, Sandra Kahn, and Steve Caloger), we weren't very close after Oakton, other than carpooling to ETHS senior year with Steve and my brother Jim. I did reconnect with Lou briefly in 1986 when he handled a real estate closing for us, but had since completely lost touch with him. I was delighted to hear that he planned to attend the 2014 reunion, and was disappointed when his George Lucas client obligation kept him from actually attending. 

I was reminded this morning of the great Chicago blizzard of 1967, fifty years ago today - and yes, January 26th was a Thursday that year as well. The fact that Lou was exceptionally smart was common knowledge, and perhaps I was a bit jealous of him, but I always remembered Lou as simply a really nice guy. That day, when we were dismissed early from Oakton School because of the snow, Lou and I walked home together along our usual route: Oakton to Asbury, to continue to Kirk and Wesley (where Lou, Steve, Sandra, and Gail lived), and then on to Mulford for me. But we stopped at the parking lot for the National (or perhaps Red Owl) grocery store at Asbury and Oakton, and helped push cars out of their parking spaces for probably an hour or more. Although I recall that we collected a few quarters from the grateful motorists we got moving, it wasn't about the money at all. It was simply a recognition that there were people in need of help, and grateful that we were able to do so. But I am not sure I would have done anything if I weren't with Lou.  

That's my fondest memory of him.  

01/27/17 08:27 AM #10    

Erica (Riki) Lippitz

I am not in Chicago.  Had anyone reached out to his wife?  Is there a shiva being held in his memory?  Is there a way for us to help comfort them, and share these words of tribute?  Peter, Bob, Byron, might you reach out?

01/27/17 11:55 AM #11    

Robert Gutner

I was never really close to him, but remember him well. As Robert Gold mentioned, his intellect was common knowledge. He never played sports with us after school, but I think he was a capable athelete. I always assumed he had more important things too do. RIP.

01/28/17 11:25 AM #12    

Lisa Wells

Like Robert Gutner said, I was with Louis all through Oakton and although I was never close with Louis, I remember him as a really smart and nice boy.  Very smart and very popular.  We all loved Louis.  I am shocked, horrified, and distarught to hear this news.  I'm very happy that you made yourself such a great success Louis, you have made us all proud!  My heart is heavy to hear this tragic news, and my love and prayers go to your family.  Rest in peace dear Louis, we will meet again.   

01/29/17 06:35 AM #13    

Jeff Kosberg

Very saddended to hear about Louis. Thank you Peter for your moving rememberances. I also go back to Oakton with Louis and remember him as not only a smart guy but universally liked, which in early school years is saying something. Nice to hear Louis went on to professional prominance but tragically ended too soon.

01/29/17 03:59 PM #14    

Michele Bitoun

I agree with Riki. Peter, Bob or Byron, please let us know if the family is sitting shiva or having any type of memorial. I am three hours from Chicago and would want to drive in. This horrible tragedy has plagued me since I read Jada's message. I too first met Louis in Oakton School and wish I could do something for his family or his memory.

01/29/17 11:33 PM #15    

Peter Murao

Michele, Riki, I know the service was held on January 20th at Beth Emet. I tried to attend but didn't find out until that morning and couldn't make it in time. I do not know about Shiva, but assume that it would have ended by now? If i get any more details on reaching the family (who I did not know) I will share with you.


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