Beloved News4Jax executive producer laid to rest in virtual ceremony

Sharon Siegel Cohen inspired, fought ALS until the end

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people on Monday paid tribute to longtime News4Jax executive producer Sharon Siegel Cohen.

Cohen, 62, passed away last week after a two-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The award-winning journalist was a consummate professional, a loving mother and wife, and a friend to many.

Some would say it was fitting that the funeral for the beloved news producer would be broadcasted live. After all, broadcasting was her life.

Her family and friends weren’t surprised this lifelong writer would write her own obituary.

“I am lucky to have had a wonderful life,” she wrote. “Thank you all for being part of my life.”

In the obituary, she listed all the things she was thankful for: her mom, dad, sister and son, her late husband, her colleagues and friends, caregivers and medical workers.

Monday afternoon, days after her passing, a small group of her closest family members gathered for a graveside service while hundreds watched from home, unable to attend in person because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Attendees via Zoom
Attendees via Zoom (Zoom)

“She fought valiantly, never lost her smile and was a trooper until the end,” her father Eddie Siegel said, as her mother Helen watched. “We are proud she was our daughter and Helen and I are happy to see what a beautiful person she became. Rest in peace, dear Sharon.”

“This is who I went to for advice. She taught me to be bold. She gave me my sense of humor,” said her son, Martin Cohen.

It has been an especially difficult time for the 22-year-old dental student. Just five months ago, his father, Joel, Sharon’s husband of 27 years, died of a heart attack. Sharon was laid to rest by his side.

Born and raised in Jacksonville, a Wolfson High and University of Florida graduate, Sharon’s service was led by the Jacksonville Jewish Center, her lifelong synagogue.

“You shall always be a blessing, Sharon,” said Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner.

Sharon was a ray of sunshine on a rainy day, just like Monday. A glimmer of hope in a dark time, just like now. Someone who cared more about others than herself.

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“Originally, I didn’t want to talk about this, I was in denial, but as a TV person, I felt that I was in a position, let’s get the awareness out,” Sharon said in a 2019 interview.

Always thoughtful, always grateful, even after her passing. A day after her death, her supporters got a thank you note in the mail. Sharon came up with the words; her parents transcribed it for her. She thanked her supporters for honoring her and raising money to defeat ALS at a recent dinner party honoring her life and achievements.

“I love all of you and send my deepest appreciation,” she wrote.

ALS is a cruel disease, one Sharon didn’t deserve. However, she lived her life to the fullest with the hand she was dealt, until the very end.

“I feel like the luckiest son on earth to call Sharon Cohen my mom,” her son Martin said.

Sharon’s family members said they plan to host a memorial service in person when the pandemic passes.

If you are touched by her life, in lieu of flowers, Sharon asked for contributions in her honor to the Jacksonville Jewish Center, the River Garden Hebrew Home or the Florida Chapter of the ALS Association.

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