Doug Cohn looked shocked March 20 when members of the Englewood City Council began considering and later confirming that he would be the Englewood Citizen of the Year for 2017.
“I was embarrassed that they even considered my name," he said. …
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“I was embarrassed that they even considered my name," he said. "When a member of the historical preservation society called and asked if it was OK to nominate me for the honor, I thought that was the craziest thing I ever heard... There should be a long list of probably 250 candidates for citizen of the year and I should be far down the list.”
He said he had a lot of fun doing all the things he has been involved with in Englewood and never thought about being honored for doing them.
“My parents taught us that when something needs fixed, fix it and if someone needs help, help them. I have tried to live up to those teachings,” he said. “When the members of the city council began considering me as Englewood Citizen of the Year, it blew me away. Receiving this honor sure wasn't on my bucket list.”
Cohn, 69, will be honored at special ceremonies at the Malley Senior Recreation Center in May but the date had not officially been set by press time.
Cohn's family moved to Englewood in 1951. He attended Englewood schools and graduated from Englewood High School in 1965, and earned a bachelor's degree in American history and a minor in education from the University of Colorado Boulder.
“I attended a Billy Graham Crusade in Denver, which led me to enter the Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary and earn a master of divinity degree in 1972,” he said. "For the next eight years, I did missionary work with young people living on the street in Denver, which included opening a halfway house called the Carpenter's House.”
He said the Carpenter's house was closed in 1978 and he entered the family business, Bonnie Brae Hobby Shop on South University Boulevard. The shop was moved to 3421 S. Broadway in 1999 but has since closed.
The focus of the shop originally was trains, then it became other hobby items like plastic model planes and eventually the focus became military board games. The shop became a center for military board game enthusiasts who battled each other around tables in the shop. The company also had a wholesale hobby supply business and Cohn was the company's traveling salesman.
After the shop closed, Cohn drove an Access-a-Ride bus for six years before retiring from a regular paying job. However his focus shifted to being more active in the community.
“I have been in Englewood since I returned to the city in 1986. I had lived several places but when I moved back here I felt like I was finally coming home,” Cohn said. “I was a Boy Scout leader and I was appointed to a series of positions on city boards and commissions starting in 1999.
Cohn is probably currently best known as the Englewood history guy.
“I have always loved history of our country, our state and I really became interested in the history of Englewood about five years ago when the issue of the sale of the train station came up,” he said. “Before that meeting, I didn't even know there was an Englewood Train Depot. I went to the meeting to try to prevent the sale of the station and, by that time that meeting was over, the guy rescinded his offer. After the council meeting, all of those who spoke against the sale met and decided we ought to start an organization to buy the train depot and make it into a museum like the original Englewood Historic Society proposed."
In 2012, Cohn became a founding member of the Englewood Historic Preservation Society. He also was a strong advocate in the successful effort to have the city create the Englewood Historic Preservation Commission.
“I am very active with our Englewood Historic Preservation Society and I am having a lot of fun doing it,” he said.
The list of Englewood Citizens of the Year dates to 1990 and until this year the nominations came from city councilmembers and the council selected the person to be honored.
The council agreed last year to have residents make the nominations so there would be a wider field of candidates for the council to choose from.
Selection of the citizen of the year was on the agenda of the March 20 council study session.
Communication Manager Alison Carney reported to the council that three individuals had been nominated to be the 2017 Englewood Citizen of the Year.
She reported about a dozen resident nominated Cohn and the council unanimously agreed by consensus that he should be selected.
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