Dr. Robert S. Cohen, 77; obstetrician, infertility specialist

Dr. Robert S. Cohen

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Dr. Robert S. Cohen, a prominent obstetrician and gynecologist who specialized in infertility medicine, died Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, at Missouri Baptist Hospital in Town and Country.  He died of heart failure after suffering a heart attack the week before, family members said.  He was 77 and was a resident of Creve Coeur.

Robert Stuart Cohen was born Nov. 2, 1936, in Nyack, N.Y., the son of Samuel and Lillian Krieger Cohen.  He grew up in upstate New York on the grounds of a 6,000-patient mental hospital where his father, a civil servant under Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, was the facility’s business director. His widow, Kathryn “Kay” Cohen, said that growing up on the grounds of Harlem Valley State Hospital helped him learn to stay calm and unfazed no matter what the problem or adversity in life, and not merely in his medical career.

Dr. Cohen graduated from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1958.  He earned his medical degree from the State University of New York (SUNY-Syracuse) in 1962 and completed his internship and residency at St. Louis Maternity Hospital, which became part of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1972.  

He met Kathryn “Kay” Kutten, his wife of 48 years, on a blind date.  They were to have three children.  While the couple were newly married, Dr. Cohen was called up to serve as a Navy doctor during the Vietnam War. He spent his tour of duty practicing obstetrics and gynecology at the St. Alban’s Naval Hospital in Queens, N.Y.

The couple returned to St. Louis after Dr. Cohen completed his military service.  He joined three other doctors to become a founding partner of Specialists in OB-GYN Inc., based in Town and Country.  His subspecialty was treating fertility patients alongside his longtime colleague and friend, Dr. Sherman Silber, at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Drs. Silber and Cohen developed microsurgical techniques that resulted in significant pregnancy rates in previously infertile women. The two physicians became renowned for using the procedures not only on their St. Louis patients, but also throughout the United States and in many foreign nations.

Dr. Cohen was an attending physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Jewish Hospital of St. Louis (now part of Barnes-Jewish), Missouri Baptist Hospital, St. Luke’s Hosptial and St. John’s Hospital.  He practiced medicine in the St. Louis area from 1968 to 2001, the year he retired.  He was also an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Cohen’s daughter Alice Cohen Moody of Chicago said, “Every person with whom he interacted, from colleagues, to nurses, to patients and hospital staff, was special to him.  He always treated everyone with kindness and respect.”

Funeral services for Dr. Cohen were held Friday, Aug. 29, at Temple Israel, where he had been a longtime member. Rabbi Amy Feder officiated.  

“Anywhere you went in St. Louis, people knew Dr. Cohen,” Feder said in her eulogy. “Mothers would stop him and proudly tell their children that ‘this man is the reason you’re here!’  He was kind, patient and absolutely devoted to the people around him, including his family, his circle of friends and each of his patients.”

Burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery on Ladue Road.

Survivors, in addition to his wife and daughter, include two sons, Alan Cohen and Andrew Cohen of St. Louis; and five grandchildren.

Memorial contributions are preferred to the American Heart Association, 460 North Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo. 63141.