MaChere Alexandria Cohen, a day care operator and piano teacher, died Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. She was 96.
She was born in Philadelphia and was the oldest of three children born to the late Walter Tresville Jr. and Virmetta Gilmore.
She graduated from Germantown High School and then enrolled in Bennett College, one of two HBCUs that only enroll women. At Bennett, she earned a bachelor’s in music, concentrating on piano.
After college, she taught private lessons and played for her churches, Union Memorial Methodist in Darby and Bethel A.M.E. in Yeadon. She also opened a daycare with her mother, and together they taught children music and put on performances for the community.
She met Charles Moses Cohen at the post office. She fell for his baritone singing voice, and they later married.
When she lived in Yeadon with her daughter Virisa and her children, she used to take them to Lansdowne diner on the weekends. The grandchildren recall eating lunch and playing the lottery with her, and then later getting lollipops from the bank because people remarked how cute and well-behaved they were.
After her daughter’s death, Cohen took in her six grandchildren at the age of 80.
Her family said she wasn’t the typical grandmother who was good at cooking or baking cookies, but she was skilled at making biscuits.
“Her go-to meals were everything but the kitchen sink type of meals thrown into a crockpot,” her family said in a tribute. “We have lost countless microwaves in her attempts, but it did help her grandchildren learn to cook.”
Cohen was known for her catchphrases, “You don’t know that” and “he’s not heavy, he’s your brother.” Her favorite pastimes were playing the piano, doing crossword puzzles, yelling at the TV whenever the Rev. Al Sharpton was on, and debating with her husband.
“She took pride in all her children and grandchildren and always tried to show them that no matter what life hands you, you can take it and do whatever you want,” the family tribute said. “She always accepted people as they were and encouraged them to live their lives the way they wanted.”
She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles, and her children, Virisa and Wilson.
She is survived by her children, Claire, Charlie, Edna, Carlton, Walter and Henrietta; grandchildren, Micole, Billy, CJ, Melody, Marian, Arianna, Monii, Carlin, Myiya, Wesley, Norma, Wynston and Waverly; and great-grandchildren, Yemaya and Zuri.