John Cohoon, who worked for USC as a public relations professional for 34 years, died Jan. 9 in Pasadena. He had been diagnosed with cancer last year. He was 66.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 2:30 pm at the United University Church on campus. Immediately following the service there will be a reception in Fellowship Hall adjacent to the church.
“John was an eloquent and masterful speechwriter who cared deeply about USC and the Viterbi School,” said USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. ” He was our institutional memory. Every public relations challenge that we faced was one that he had already experienced. We will miss him greatly.”
Cohoon began working for USC in November 1975, the same year that he earned his M.A. in journalism from the university.
For two decades, he managed a broad range of public relations activities at USC’s Institute for Safety and Systems Management, including communications, publications, marketing, advertising, events, volunteer activities and fund-raising campaigns.
When the institute was dissolved in 1997, Cohoon briefly served as the marketing manager at the Aviation Safety Program (now Aviation Safety and Security), before joining the external relations department at the USC Viterbi School.
He served as a speechwriter for USC Viterbi deans C. L. Max Nikias (now USC executive vice president and provost) and Yortsos. He also created brochures, wrote news releases and edited and proofread most publications from external relations. Although he suffered a serious stroke in 2003 that left him permanently disabled, he continued to work for USC Viterbi on a part-time basis.
Cohoon was proud of teaching himself html coding so he could help create USC Viterbi’s first Web site. He was still updating it when he fell ill last November.
“He was the best proofreader I ever met and his loyalty to USC was extraordinary,” said Cohoon’s supervisor, Leslie Dacruz, executive director of communications and marketing at USC Viterbi. “The courage and determination with which he faced health problems in recent years was inspiring to all of us.”
Cohoon also earned a B.A. degree in international business from Sophia University in Japan. From 1967 to 1972, he was stationed in Japan in an intelligence unit in the U.S. Army.
Cohoon is survived by a brother, Paul, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
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