Aletha Gail Cohen, 52, Assembly of God pastor

February 07, 2004

The Rev. Aletha Gail Cohen, a pastor of an Assembly of God church in West Baltimore, died Jan. 30 of a stroke at University of Maryland Medical Center. The Owings Mills resident was 52.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Sandtown-Winchester, Aletha Gail Costin was a 1970 Forest Park High School graduate. She attended the University of Maryland, College Park in the 1970s and returned to the school and received her diploma last year, earning a bachelor's degree in family studies.

In the 1970s she sold encyclopedias in Randallstown and in other neighborhoods.

A soprano, she was a soloist in musical ensembles and at churches in addition to singing in the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. She also sang backup for traveling gospel artists. She was the host of A New Life Celebration, a daily 15-minute live radio broadcast on WBMD-AM in the 1980s.

She was also an advocate for the homeless and served on the Howard County Homeless Board.

"While a minister and Bible teacher, she was a cheerleader for God," said Ben Cohen, her husband of eight years. "She tried to be an encouragement to everyone she encountered."

After belonging to Trinity Assembly of God in Lutherville, she became the praise and worship leader and a Bible studies teacher at Sandtown Assembly of God on West Laurens Street. Last summer, she was made the church's pastor. At the time of her death, she was working to set up programs to help the neighborhood's homeless and underprivileged.

Graveside services were held yesterday.

In addition to her husband, survivors include a son, Phillip Mackey of Baltimore; two daughters, Angela Mackey of Baltimore and Kristi Gaskin of Albuquerque, N.M.; her mother, Elizabeth Costin, and her father, Rudolph W. Costin, both of Baltimore; three brothers, Ingron Laury, Bryant Laury and Victor Laury, all of Baltimore; and three grandchildren. Her marriage to William Mackey ended in divorce.

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