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Harold ChenvenMarch 20, 1920 ~ May 13, 2017 (age 97)
A Graceful Exit
On May 13, 2017, at around 8:45 pm, Harold Chenven passed away surrounded by his family. He was 97.
Harold believed in obligation – the obligation of all to leave the world a better place. Even today, with the challenges of war, greed, and oppression, Harold continued to believe a better world was possible. He served in the US Armed Services as second Lieutenant in World War II – part of the “greatest generation” that fought the heroic battle against Fascism. Yet he gladly supported conscientious objectors in opposition to military service during an unjust war in Southeast Asia. He advocated for workers’ and tenant rights. He was passionate about civil rights and fought for an end to Jim Crow segregation as well as segregation in Stuyvesant Town where he lived. He also was an enthusiastic and early supporter of the women’s rights movement. Putting into practice his deepest convictions, he was an inspiration to his family, friends, and colleagues.
Life was not always easy. Born to an immigrant family with little means, abandoned by his father early in life, Harold was sustained by love: The love of his mother, Molly, who worked hard and sacrificed much to raise her two boys, Irving and Harold; the love of Ruth, his wife of 39 years, with whom he raised 2 daughters and built his dream home. After her death, Harold expressed amazement and gratitude for the love of 2 wonderful women: the caring and loving Yvonne Greenberg, who died too soon, and then for the last 20 years of his life, the deep and abiding love and affection of Joan Cohen whom he often called his wonderous love. Joan cared for him and brought him joy in his waning years.
Family was central in Harold’s life: his daughters, Laura and Morning Star, their husbands, Peter and Moonlight, his grandchildren, Tibet, Natasha, Miro, and Rebecca and his step grandchildren including George Jr., Girard, Domica, Angelita, along with the rest of their extended family. He remained close with Yvonne’s children, Jimmy and Claude, and welcomed his relationship with Joan’s sons Steven and Robert Cohen, their wives Amy and Jill and Joan’s grandchildren, Spencer, Alex, and Carter.
After the war and with the benefits offered by the GI Bill, Harold completed his Ph.D in Clinical Psychology at NYU. As a psychologist, Harold made a difference to many. At the Veterans Administration, ICD, and the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Services, he played a seminal role in expanding services and building programs for physically and emotionally disabled populations. In private practice, his patients responded to his faith in their ability to mobilize their strengths to heal themselves. He also inspired students in graduate psychology programs of both NYU and Columbia.
Harold loved the life of the mind and the arts. He was an avid reader who consumed books and periodicals of all types: fiction, history, science, politics, etc. He loved classical music and could usually name the composer after hearing only a few bars of music. It was not unusual to hear him whistling a phrase from a Brandenburg Concerto or an Ella Fitzgerald song or humming a tune from Mozart. In 1982, he founded the Chenven Foundation to honor Ruth’s memory and support visual artists. Over its 35 years, more than 200 artists have benefited from its award program.
Harold fulfilled his obligation to make the world a better place. We will remember him with love. We will miss him dearly.
Burial will be at Sharon Gardens Cemetery in Valhalla, New York at 11 am on Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Shiva calls are welcome at the home of Joan Cohen in Westfield, NJ on Tuesday, May 16 after the burial and 7 to 9 pm and on Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday May 18 from 1-4 and 7–9.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Donations in his honor can be made to the Chenven Foundation in support of the arts at www.chenvenfoundation.org