Thursday, January 27, 2022

Person of the Week

Cohen Enjoys Giving Back to Community as Lions President

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Despite his hectic schedule, Ed Cohen makes time to give back to the community as president of the North Haven Lions Club. Photo courtesy of Ed Cohen

Despite his hectic schedule, Ed Cohen makes time to give back to the community as president of the North Haven Lions Club. (Photo courtesy of Ed Cohen)

Ed Cohen has been involved with the Lions Club since 2008 and currently serves as president of the North Haven Lions Club. Ed has only been involved in North Haven since he moved back to the area in October 2019.

He originally was inducted into the New Britain Lions Club in 2008. Ed joined at the urging of his then-girlfriend, who was serving as president. He was so moved by the mission and work of the club that when the couple moved to California to be closer to her family, Ed didn’t hesitate to join a Lions Club on the West Coast.

“When I saw all the stuff she was doing, it encouraged me to join,” says Ed. “Then I was very active in California. I made some terrific friends out there and we still stay in touch.”

Ed also remains connected to the Palmdale Lions Club in California as his 154-pound Leonberger mastiff Brunhilda was inducted as a member and served as the club’s mascot; after her passing, she became the mascot in perpetuity. Bruni was also a therapy dog and she and Ed visited local hospitals where patients loved seeing “the really big dog.”

Bruni also accompanied Ed on various fundraising endeavors for the Lions Club, including White Cane Day during which the Lions raise money for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation.

“When I’d be out collecting with Bruni, I’d collect three times as much because everyone wanted to come up to see the dog,” says Ed. “Nothing lures people in more than dogs and puppies, especially when they’re guide dogs.”

This year, people will get a chance to see guide dog puppies on Saturday, Oct. 16 as the North Haven Lions will be holding collections for White Cane Day at various sites. They will be collecting monetary donations, dog food, blankets, and towels. Donations are also shared with the Animal Haven, so donations of cat food are also accepted. There will be handlers and guide dog puppies on site for people to meet.

When Ed returned from California, he brought an idea with him inspired by his club on the West Coast. Ed began the Catch a Rising Star program in partnership with North Haven High School.

“We honor a student nominated by the school and give them a certificate and a $50 bill,” says Alan. “These are kids that don’t usually get kudos, so it’s been absolutely terrific. The students love it.”

The Lions also host Second Saturday Service Projects, which serve as a collection to help restock the food bank. The collections are held on the second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the North Haven Congregational Church. The Lions not only collect food, but eyeglasses, pet food, and pet supplies to benefit other causes the Lions support.

“At the last one we got 400 pounds of food and the time before that was 750 pounds—all in three hours,” says Ed. “Talk about a generous town. It’s incredible.”

Ed credits fellow Lion Alan Sturtz for coming up with the Second Saturday Project, noting what a huge difference it has made. While Sturtz is officially the club treasurer, Ed notes he has been instrumental in many of the Lions Projects, which includes testing students’ vision, blood drives, and more.

Ed was recently hired as a location manager for a movie filming in Middletown. In that role, he often faces 13- to 17-hour days. Because of the high demand for his time, Ed has leaned even more on Sturtz.

“Alan has been the hero in that and been beyond amazing,” says Ed. “He was district governor last year and had to visit every club in the region but was still there for our club. He may be our club treasurer, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s co-president.”

Ed never would have guessed he would be working in the film industry at age 75. Despite studying child development and family relations at UConn and then teaching in New Haven for three years, Ed has spent the majority of his career in the music business and in sales.

Ed got his start in the music industry in 1965 and was at one point managing five bands and booking for 100.

“I worked with some amazing musicians,” says Ed.

In addition to managing and booking bands, Ed had the opportunity to help develop a new instrument called the BiroTron, which was invented by Dave Biro, a musician Ed managed. Through his connections, Ed and Biro got the BiroTron to Rick Wakeman of Yes. He was so impressed by the instrument that they formed a partnership and went into production of the instrument in England.

“Dave put it together from trash–an upright piano he took apart, book cases–and it was 300 pounds,” says Ed. “I stayed in England a month, Dave stayed for six, and they got it down to 54 pounds.”

Though the music industry has always been “my passion,” Ed’s day job was in sales. He spent time working in Connecticut before living in Colorado for 13 years. He moved back to Connecticut to work in sales for a friend, but was on the road for 300 days a year.

Ed now manages a composer, Max Di Carlo, who was born in Rome and spent 10 years in a conservatory of music. Di Carlo is now a composer, conductor, arranger, track engineer, mix engineer, and mastery engineer who has collaborated with Elton John on two albums and produced several multi-platinum Latin artists. With 9,800 compositions to date, Di Carlo scored seven movies in 2020 and recently completed the scoring for two horror movies.

Through his work with Di Carlo, Ed met the producer of a film starring Antonio Banderas that was filming in Connecticut. After talking, the producer asked Ed if he’d be interested in being the location scout for the film.

“I knocked it out of the park and they asked me to do another so now I’m the location manager for this film in Middletown,” says Ed. “As location manager, you’re first man in, last man out and you make sure everything goes right with the location and handle the crisis of the moment.”

Even though Ed never imagined he’d be working on a movie set and sometimes has to “pinch himself” when he looks back on his career, there is one moment that stands out. Ed was working with a band called Surprise and recording its album at Record Plant in New York City. When he and the band went to pick up the master tape, the engineer and producer, Dennis Ferrante, suggested Ed say hello to Record Plant owner Roy Cicala in one of the studios.

Ed headed down the hall and opened the door to hear “unbelievable music coming off the monitors” as he saw a man with his back to him.

“The guy turns around and it was John Lennon. I froze; I was speechless—never been speechless in my life,” says Ed. “He had an aura about him nobody had. He came out in the hall with his arms crossed and a big grin and now the band is speechless. What do you say to God? It turned out he was mixing a song called ‘Imagine.’ I walked in on history.”

Ed was just as excited to list the accomplishments of his four sons: Jason, who is director of operations for the department of consumer protection; Stephen, who is in command of the infrastructure network at CIGNA; Eric, who was just hired at new artificial intelligence company; and David, who is the head of all schools for Temple Shalom in Greenwich. Ed also has three step kids and eight biological grandkids.

Though Ed stays busy with his career, he makes time to give back to the community through his work with Lions Club International (LCI), which has 1.4 million members in 210 countries. LCI also comes to aid in major disasters, bringing both “money and manpower to the table.”

“I always like to to try to make a difference, whether at work or in the community,” Ed says. “I enjoy being in the position to actually give back and make a real difference.”

For information, email northhavenctlions@gmail.com or like North Haven Lions on Facebook.


Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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