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City councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen dies

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Kay Daniels-Cohen, city councilmember and second-generation Takoma Park activist and booster passed away away yesterday, Feb. 20, 2014.

Well known and admired for her compassion and enthusiasm, she persevered in keeping her council seat, attending as many meetings as possible and running for re-election since last February when she had a hip-replacement and was diagnosed with cancer. Through her treatment and inevitable decline she missed only one or two meetings, though she participated in several via phone connection from her home.

Kay Daniels Cohen, and Tim Male take the council oath of office, January, 2012

Newly elected councilmembers Kay Daniels-Cohen and Tim Male sworn in to office, January, 2012.

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Kay Daniels-Cohen rode the ArtHop trolley, greeting Takoma Park’s art-festival goers, 2013

Her mother Opal Daniels was also a civic activist. The Opal A. Daniels Neighborhood Park on Hancock Ave was named in her honor. Activism runs in the family, Kay’s bother Buddy Daniels is a local Democratic Party precinct chair. Kay Daniels was married to Jack Cohen in 1993. Their Sherman Ave. residence is the house she and brother Buddy grew up in.

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Kay Daniels-Cohen in Takoma Park’s 2012 Independence Day Parade. Photo by Julie Wiatt.

The city released the following statement:

Takoma Park Announces the Passing of Councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen

With deep sadness, the City of Takoma Park announces the death of Ward 3 Councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen on February 20, 2014 at the age of 71. She died after a long and vigorous battle with cancer. Her positive vitality through her illness was awe-inspiring as she worked hard to serve her constituents despite suffering the effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Her lively presence at Council meetings, relentless optimism and civic pride will be missed greatly by her fellow Councilmembers, residents and staff.

Kay Daniels-Cohen was elected to the City Council in November 2011 and was reelected in November 2013. She described herself as a “home grown” phenomenon. Her parents moved to Takoma Park in 1946 and she attended Takoma Park Elementary, Takoma Park Junior High, Montgomery Blair High School, the University of Maryland and West Virginia University . A park in Takoma Park near her home is named for her mother, Opal Daniels.

Kay was a vocal advocate for Takoma Park and her contributions to civic life are numerous. She re-established the SS Carroll Neighborhood Association as a powerful and viable neighborhood association. She was named Activist of the Year 2009 by the Takoma Foundation and The Takoma Voice for her contributions to better the quality of life for Takoma Park residents and outstanding civic leadership. Her professional background in recreation led to her promotion of recreation in all its forms. At Council meetings, she was known for giving out “Gold Stars” to local businesses, city staff, and event coordinators for doing things that contributed to the Takoma Park she loved.

“Kay was the quintessential booster of all things Takoma Park,” noted Mayor Bruce Williams. “No one was more interested in making sure that everyone, especially kids, knew about and took advantage of all of the opportunities around them. She expressed joy and enthusiasm about everything in the world around her. She valued her time on the City Council, and we all appreciate her efforts to make this city a better place.”

Recreation Director Gregory Clark added, “Kay had a special commitment to recreation and a love of people which we will surely miss. Her work ethic, ‘can do’ spirit and positive demeanor led the way in support of many of the City’s programs and services such as the Winter Basketball League, the annual Egg Hunt and Monster Bash, the re-opening of the Piney Branch Pool, Independence Day Parade and youth garden.”Kay Daniels- Cohen is survived by her husband Jack Co hen and brother Buddy Daniels. Information on arrangements will be posted on the City’s website when available.

The next City Council meeting on Monday night, February 24, will be kept very short, followed by an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts about Kay at the podium. In addition, residents who wish to share “Kay stories” and photos may want to post them on a special Facebook page that has been created.
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You may also send your Kay Daniels-Cohen stories to The Voice for publication.

About the author: Bill Brown

Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.

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