Shirley Williams Cohen, 88, formerly of Penn Yan, died peacefully on August 12, 2019, after a long illness.

Arrangements were entrusted to The Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, N.J. Burial was at Lakeview Cemetery, Penn Yan.

Born in Elmira, and raised in Penn Yan, Shirley’s Great Depression childhood was brightened by the arts and education. Books, music, and opera were always in the home, and a great aunt sponsored her college education at SUNY Geneseo. She majored in teaching and music and later earned a Master’s degree in speech at SUNY Buffalo.

After marrying and moving to New Jersey, she taught in the Newark Public Schools. Later she was the director of the Speech and Hearing Department at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., where she worked for 25 years and was a member of a highly regarded cranial-facial surgical team.

Shirley’s greatest love was her family. She was the one who made sure all family milestones were celebrated with joy. She loved music, books, poetry, art, and birds. She was a social justice advocate and an active Democrat.

Shirley was predeceased by her husband of 60 years, Gilbert Cohen, and by her brothers, twins Robert and Rodman Williams. She is survived by daughter, Susan Chanin; daughter, Cindy Paul and her husband Peter Paul; grandson, Ross Chanin and his wife, Nicole Cadman Chanin, and their daughter, Adrian Chanin; grandsons, Jonathan Chanin, Jacob Paul, and Alexander Paul; brother, Lee Williams; sisters-in-law, Sally Williams and Mary Lou Williams; brother-in-law Joseph Cohen; and two generations of nieces and nephews. 

In Shirley’s memory, the family asks to consider donations to Oxfam, an international hunger relief organization, at

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