Age Is No Barrier To This Fencing Master

Age Is No Barrier To This Fencing Master

I admire people who have reached the age where a rocking chair and a cold beer seem to sum up their future outlook — but they choose another more productive path for their "golden years." 

I'm fortunate in knowing many people who have enriched the latter part of their lives and I've written about several, including Joe Griffies, an energetic advocate for veterans throughout the greater Philadelphia area and New Jersey who is host of the "Welcome Home Show" on WIBG radio, and Joe Walters, who lost the lower part of his left leg in action in Vietnam and went on to win eight U.S. Judo National Masters  Championships and received his sixth degree black belt in 2014 at the age of 73. The book about his life, "Strength in Numbers," is an inspiring story not only of overcoming adversity, but conquering it. (For articles on Griffies and Walters, see "veterans" in the "topics" section at the bottom of the page.)

Joining that list is Joseph Cohen of Cape May Court House, NJ, whose life story reads like a good adventure novel. Born in Philadelphia, he parlayed an athletic scholarship in fencing into an undergraduate degree at Temple University, where he was an All-American in his junior and senior years while competing in all three fencing weapons, foil, saber and epee. He later received a Doctorate in Education Management from Indiana University.  

After graduation from Temple, Cohen taught for two years in Philadelphia, then took a teaching job in Pakistan. He later taught or held positions as an education consultant in 32 countries — 33 including the U.S.– among them South Sudan, Indonesia, Malawi and other developing nations before returning to the U.S. He estimates he traveled about 2 million miles between 1970 and 2015. 

When he discovered that sitting around playing games and watching TV was not for him, he returned to fencing in 2012, at the age of 67, and has been competing ever since. This past weekend (beginning August 1, 2015) he won first place in the combined foil in the 40-70 and above category at the Pennsylvania State Games in York, Pa. He earlier took first place in veteran foil (age 70-plus division) at the International Cup competition in Seattle, Wa.; first in the Vet age 70+ foil in the North American Cup in Reno, Nv. ,and was second in the 70-plus division at the U.S. National Championships in July. In October, he will represent the United States in the World Fencing Championships in Limoges, France.

After more than 45 years in the field of education, both here and abroad, Joe Cohen has acquired a world view of education and he has agreed to share that knowledge with our readers. We look forward to his insights in "Cohen's World of Education." 

Beau Weisman, Editor