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Dr. Gary N. Cohen, 85, directed psychiatric unit at Women & Children's Hospital

Dr. Gary N. Cohen, 85, directed psychiatric unit at Women & Children's Hospital

Jan. 14, 1934 – Dec. 5, 2019

Dr. Gary N. Cohen, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who directed the psychiatric unit at the former Women & Children’s Hospital for many years, died Dec. 5 in Buffalo General Medical Center after a brief illness. He was 85.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1951 graduate of Bennett High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Buffalo in 1954.

After completing UB medical school in 1958, he served his medical internship at Buffalo General, then was a resident in psychiatry for two years at the University of Cincinnati’s Cincinnati General Hospital and a fellow in child psychiatry there for two more years.

Dr. Cohen served in the Navy in the Psychiatry Department at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif., with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Returning to Buffalo in 1965, he was chief psychiatrist for adolescent service for a year at E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital – now Erie County Medical Center – then established a private practice.

He served as medical director for the Psychiatric Clinic Inc. from 1968 to 1973 and was a consultant for the Family Service Society and the M. Beeman Clinic.

Named acting director of child psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Children’s Hospital in 1978, Dr. Cohen was appointed director in 1989 and continued in that post until 2001.

He opened the Adolescent Inpatient Unit at ECMC, the county’s first acute inpatient psychiatric unit for adolescents, in 1991 and was its medical director for four years.

In 1998, he was named clinical director for the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center, a post he held until 2015.

After 24 years as a clinical assistant and associate professor in psychiatry at UB, Dr. Cohen helped reorganize the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry in 1989 and was its chief until 2003.

He also developed a training program for residents in child and adolescent psychiatry at UB.

Named a fellow by the American Psychiatric Association in 1974, he became a board examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1992.

He was honored with the Hyman Levin Award by the Mental Health Association of Erie County in 1998.

He was a past president of the Western New York District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association and served for many years as an assembly delegate to the American Psychiatric Association and New York State Psychiatric Association.

In addition to lecturing, researching and publishing papers on psychiatric topics, he was author of a novel, “The Hitching Post.”

A Snyder resident for many years, he enjoyed skiing, sailing, tennis and gardening and maintained a summer home in Waverly Beach, Ont.

He was a member of Temple Beth Zion.

His wife of 59 years, the former Deborah Bleichfeld, a school counselor, author and amateur historian, died in 2017.

Survivors include two sons, Jonathan R. and David G.; a brother, Dr. Michael; and four grandchildren.

Services were held Monday, Dec. 9, in Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave.

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