Irving Cohen, a Baltimore businessman who with his wife started one of the earliest treatment centers in Maryland for alcoholics, died of cancer Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 87.
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Cohen was a 1934 graduate of City College and attended the old Baltimore Business College. Before World War II, he started the Parkton Co., a Baltimore business that originally sold neckties but became a men's sportswear manufacturer and wholesaler.
His work at the company was interrupted by the war. His father ran the business while Mr. Cohen served as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in Alexandria, La., where he met his future wife, Janella Stewart, who was the secretary to the commanding officer.
Back in Baltimore, he resumed work at the Parkton Co., which he closed in the early 1980s.
In 1968, the Cohens and several others started Hidden Brook, one of the first treatment centers specifically for alcoholism. Mrs. Cohen was a recovering alcoholic and the couple saw the need for a facility of this type, which was absent in Maryland, said their daughter, Darlene Cohen of Baltimore. The facility, staffed largely by recovering alcoholics, opened with beds for nine patients.
By 1985, when it was sold and became part of a group of hospitals known as New Beginnings, it had grown to more than 200 beds in centers that included an institution in Pennsylvania and two on the Eastern Shore, one of them for adolescents.
Mr. Cohen never actually retired, keeping busy with investments and other commitments, his daughter said.
He was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and lived more than half the year in Jupiter, Fla.
Services were held yesterday.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Cohen is survived by a sister, Charlotte Kessler of Baltimore; and several nieces and nephews. His wife died in 1991.