Dr. Lawrence A. Coben

Dr. Lawrence A. Coben

Dr. Lawrence A. Coben, October 7, 2020

Larry was born on July 27, 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio to the late Harry and Fay Coben. Larry is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years, Sandra Reif Coben; his children, Rachel Coben (Roger Klein), Joshua Coben (Djuna Perkins), Anna Greenberg (Ben Greenberg) and David Coben; his grandchildren, Rena Perkins Coben, Nathaniel Perkins Coben, Theodore Perkins Coben, Avigail Greenberg, Ariella Greenberg, Yonah Greenberg, Noah Klein and Ari Klein. Larry was the dear younger brother of Dorothy Ferster and uncle of Judith and David Ferster.

Larry died of cancer on October 7, 2020 at home surrounded by his family.

Larry grew up in Cleveland and University Heights, Ohio. After two years in the U.S. Navy (1944-46), Larry graduated from Western Reserve University with a B.S. in chemistry, followed by a Master’s degree in psychology at Northwestern University. He then returned to Western Reserve for medical school. Larry became an Associate Professor of neurology, working for over 4 decades as a research neurologist in St. Louis at Barnes Hospital in affiliation with Washington University’s medical school. He ran the hospital’s EEG lab, researched sleep disorders and then Alzheimer’s Disease as part of one of the first research projects investigating senile dementia. He co-authored the Clinical Dementia Rating (CRD), a global rating device for stages of cognitive function, which is still widely cited by researchers.

Larry and his sister Dorothy Ferster co-wrote the foundational book on the history of the enamelware art they both collected, Japanese Cloisonne: History, Technique and Appreciation. He also wrote Anna’s Shtetl, an account of shtetl life in early 20th century Ukraine. Other passion projects included a book of Beastly Rhymes and Reasons: Axolotl to Zapas, an alphabetical bestiary.

Larry wrote light occasional verse for family events with his wife, Sandy. He learned to play the violin in adulthood and played for the University City Symphony in Missouri. He wrote songs for a musical. He published historical research on the history of the shtetl and on exploration of the New World by Spain and Portugal. 

Larry is remembered for his integrity, curiosity, humor, and loving presence, and for his love of family, chocolate, and the Celtics. 

Remembrances may be made to the ACLU and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital of Boston.