March 21, 2018
Wyandotte Distinguished Graduate
Cohen, Dr. Robert S. - 1941
Perry, Judge John R. - 1948
Cohen, Dr. Robert S. - Class of 1941
Robert Cohen distinguished himself as a physicist and
electrical engineer whose accomplishments included
research on the ionosphere and pioneering work to
launch federal renewable energy programs. He was a
world leader in the development of Ocean Thermal Energy
Conversion, a technology that uses the temperature
difference between cooler deep and warmer surface
seawaters to generate electricity.
While at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Robert was a
member of the National Honor Society and participated in
Thespians, Stage Craft, WY-HI school newspaper and
After graduating, Robert enrolled at Wayne State
University, majoring in chemistry. He served in the United States Navy from 1944-46 as an electrical technician aboard a landing ship tank in the China seas. In 1947, Robert completed his B.S. degree in chemistry from Wayne State University. He earned an M.S. degree in physics from the University of Michigan in 1948 and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1956.
Dr. Cohen began his career in 1956 as an atmospheric physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technologies in Boulder, Colorado, later moving to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Environmental Research Labs, where he conducted experimental studies of the ionosphere that employed radio waves and radar as remote sensors. That research included operating a chain of radio transmitters along the west coast of South America. Impacts of those experiments include improved accuracy of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and protection of critical infrastructure, such as power grids, from solar storms and other adverse space weather.
In 1973, Dr. Cohen joined the federal renewable energy research and development program in Washington, D.C. as program manager, initially at the National Science Foundation and subsequently at the U.S. Department of Energy. He was charged with designing and implementing the federal ocean thermal energy research and development program. On behalf of the U.S. Information Agency, Dr. Cohen also conducted missions to help scientists from other countries explore solar energy research and development. From 1985 to 1990 he led studies on energy technology policy at the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Cohen lectured extensively internationally and published numerous papers and book chapters on ocean energy and equatorial ionosphere exploration. Throughout his career, Dr. Cohen coached and mentored many young scientists and worked to strengthen scientific capacity in developing countries. Dr. Cohen retired in 1990 but remained active, working pro bono to promote the commercialization of ocean thermal energy technology. He was a passionate activist in advancing health care reform.
Dr. Cohen was a devoted family man. He was married to Carolyn Campbell Cohen for 52 years and thoroughly enjoyed his two children and three grand-daughters.
Dr. Robert Cohen passed away in 2016 at the age of 92. His life-long scientific research made our world a better place.
Perry, Judge John R. - Class of 1948
John Perry distinguished himself as a compassionate
attorney and honored district judge for over 46 years.
John graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1948. He
played reserve (J.V.) football but soon found out he was
too small for that sport. John often recalled his school
days from Woodruff Elementary School, his 7th and 8th
grades at St. Patrick School and his four years at Roosevelt
Shortly after graduating, John Perry joined the United
States Air Force for a two-year commitment. Following his
service years, John began studying at the University of
Detroit School of Law. With his 1958 law degree, John soon
married and had three children. He spent the next 24
years as a practicing attorney where he earned the respect of his associates. John also organized an attorney’s softball league that brought his colleagues together in a fun and special way.
In 1982, John Perry was appointed to the 36th District Court bench and served in the court’s Environmental, Criminal, Traffic and Ordinance Divisions. John’s fellow judges soon elected him as the Chief Presiding Judge for the District Court. For over 22 years, John Perry distinguished himself as an outstanding, compassionate and nationally recognized judge.
John was always available to mentor young attorneys who appeared before him by explaining his opinions to help them strengthen their arguments – all with the desire to improve the effectiveness of his colleagues.
On April 12, 2004, Judge Perry was killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking home, tragically ending his 22 years plus service. It was a horrible shock to his wife and three children, but it also stunned the court system.
John Perry’s service to Michigan, as an attorney and district judge, had earned him state-wide and national recognition as evidenced by a proclamation on the floor of the House in Washington, D.C. by Congressman John Dingell wherein he said, “…Mr. Speaker: the State of Michigan lost one of its most important leaders, his family has lost a father and husband and many have lost a friend. It is with great sadness that we acknowledge his passing, but it is also an honor to acknowledge the important contributions he has made throughout his life. I will miss his friendship and the State of Michigan will miss his wisdom and service on the bench.” John’s family also received personal condolences from President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush. Hundreds of attorneys and judges joined the large funeral service honoring John.
John Perry’s children and grandchildren are very proud to have had a special father and grandfather.