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Philanthropist, community volunteer Betty Bloch Kohn dies at 98; private funeral set for Wed.

BETTY BLOCH KOHN, a New Orleans philanthropist known for her elegant sense of style and fun-loving nature, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022 at the age of 98. 

BETTY BLOCH KOHN

Along with her husband, she owned and operated The Leader Store in Napoleonville, a department store located along Bayou Lafourche. The Kohns sold everything from fabric and furniture to lingerie and jewelry, but they closed the 100-year-old store in 1990 and donated the building and property to nearby Nicholls State University. 

Known for her love of community and for her many donations to several causes with special meaning to her, she established the Betty Bloch Kohn Women’s Athletic Scholarship at Nicholls State University and the Ira and Betty Kohn College Scholarship Fund at Jewish Children’s Regional Service (JCRS). A longtime member of Touro Synagogue, she also provided funds to renovate the chapel and the entire main sanctuary.

For her dedication to Touro Synagogue and as a former board member, she and her husband shared the L’Chayim Award from the synagogue in 2002. Additionally, she served as honorary chair of the Saks Key to the Cure in 2013 and was co-chair of the event in 2015 at 90 years of age. In 2019, at age 95, she was the honoree of their “Jewish Roots of Fashion” fundraiser.

A past president of the Touro Synagogue Sisterhood and the AEPhi New Orleans Alumni Association, she was a district vice president of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and chairman of the Louisiana Federation of Temple Sisterhood’s District Convention. She also served on the boards of the Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Touro Infirmary Women’s Auxiliary, the Jewish Community Center, Brandeis Women’s Group and the Arthritis Foundation Auxiliary. She was a life member of the Touro Synagogue Sisterhood and the National Council of Jewish Women and was a Lion of Judah through the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. 

A native of Napoleonville, LA., Kohn attended Napoleonville High School, where she was both a star athlete and valedictorian. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Newcomb College, making lifelong friends as a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. She later attended Soule Business College.

In 1948, she married the love of her life, Ira M. Kohn, to whom she was married for 64 years. During their marriage, the Kohns traveled the world, entertained friends and family and hosted black-tie parties. She was especially known for her magnificent needlepoints and amazing gardening skills. 

She is survived by her children Frances (Julian) Koch and Robert (Millie) Kohn, four grandchildren and a pair of twin great-grandchildren.

Private funeral services for family only were conducted by Rabbi Katie Bauman on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 2 p.m.. Friends and the community joined in by livestream broadcast over the synagogue’s website. Interment was private.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Betty can make donations to Touro Synagogue, 4238 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA, 70115 or Jewish Children’s Regional Service, 3500 N. Causeway Blvd. Suite 1120, Metairie, LA., 70002.

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