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Robert Cofenas: 'Dr. Bob,' English Teacher in BASD [Obituary]

Dr. Robert G. Cofenas, Ed.D., of Bethlehem, 72, died suddenly on Saturday, December 14, 2013, in his home.

Dr. Robert G. Cofenas
Dr. Robert G. Cofenas
Dr. Robert G. Cofenas, Ed.D., of Bethlehem, 72, died suddenly on Saturday, December 14, 2013, in his home.

Robert was the son of the late Robert T. and and Louise J. (Ackerman) Cofenas. He was the brother of the late Carolann L. Miller, wife of Harold A. Miller, Northampton.

He was known to his students, clients, professional colleagues, and friends as Dr. Bob. He was pre-deceased by many loving family members and friends with whom, we pray, he is now happily reunited at the heavily banquet in our Fathers House. After his college graduation from St. Charles Seminary, Philadelphia, and after attending classes at Moravian College, Bethlehem, for his teaching certification, Dr. Bob worked for the Bethlehem Area School District where he had been an Honors English Teacher at Liberty High School, and at Freedom High School, where he wrote the new school's Alma Mater.

During his teaching career, he served as a Faculty Adviser for the literary-art magazines at both high schools and toured all the secondary schools with a high school folk group he formed to energize and encourage students to write for the school magazines. He served for years as a Member of the Executive Board of the Pennsylvania School Press Association and as President and Convention Chairman.

Throughout his life, Dr. Bob had been a devoted educator who had a great passion for learning and teaching others. His graduate education prepared him well with the credentials of a MA (Education/Classics) from Lehigh University, a MA (Systematic Theology) from Mount St. Marys University, Emmitsburg, MD, and an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education/Administration) from Lehigh University. In the past, Dr. Bob had been an Adjunct Professor teaching different courses at Alvernia University, Reading, DeSales University, Northampton Community College, and Lehigh Carbon Community College.

He initially spent a few months as a Volunteer Tutor and then was hired for some years as an Instructor to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Northampton Community College. His experience in the Mental Health field enabled him to serve as a Care Coordinator and Supervisor while working at Mount Trexler Manor, Limeport. He was a Diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association.

Dr. Bob served in the priestly ministry of the Diocese of Allentown: he was a Campus Minister at Lehigh University and Moravian College. At Lehigh, he exercised a major influence with the President and Trustees of Lehigh University with the help of the Newman Foundation to establish the first Newman Center of the Lehigh campus adjacent to Grace Hall. He was also the Diocesan Director of Campus Ministry. He served as a special Advocate for the Diocesan Tribunal, and he was a Member of the Executive Committee on Ecumenism, Lehigh County Council of Churches as well as a Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, Calvary Council 528.

In past years, he served as a Assistant Superintendent, Vice President of Mount St. Marys University, Emmitsburg, MD, St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, Reading, Founding Editor, AD Times, Allentown, Our Lady Help of Christians, Allentown, and St. Catherine of Siena, Reading. He treasured the years of his musical career when he served as Choir Director and Organist for the Cathedral Choir of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown, and his beloved parish choir, the fomer choir of Ss. Cyril & Methodius, Bethlehem, now Incarnation of Our Lord Parish. He was blessed to serve as an organist for the choir of St. Charles Seminary, Philadelphia, Mount St. Marys Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD and the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, as well as having the privilege of playing the organ in several basilicas in Rome.

Dr. Bob had been trained by the late Rev. Angelo A. DellaPicca, as student of the late Sistine Choir Director, Rome, Rev. Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci. Dr. Bob has alway enjoyed walking, playing cards, reading, swimming, going to movies, plays, Broadway Shows, listening to music, working with choirs, and playing pipe and electronic organs. His enjoyment included past vacations to the New Jersey shore, touring other states, several international trips to Europe. He especially cherished the privilege he had in June 1996, with his mother, Louise, of twice personally meeting in Rome with His Holiness, now Pope St. John Paul II.

Dr. Bob loved people and enjoyed greeting people wherever he went. He loved helping people to come to know Christ. He loved to make people laugh and he found his greatest joy in affirming people-especially those who were hurting and had no one to talk to, the most marginalized, the least among us, and he would go out of his way to help them. Among his many talents and abilities, this was the accomplishment which delighted him the most-to give people hope and guidance when they were experiencing deep crises in their lives. We will always remember his smile and welcoming personality, especially the many times he delighted in treating people to meals. He tried to exemplify the love of Jesus to others. He often said, It doesn't cost anything to be loving and nice to people. Jesus would want us to do that for others. Rest in peace, dear friend.

Survivors: Dr. Bob dedicated his life to his family and friends and will be lovingly remembered by them, and most especially by his nephew, Jeffrey S. Miller of Stamford, CT, husband of Lorraine Barber Miller; Uncle Ferdinand Ackerman, Sr., of Bethlehem, husband of the late Dorothea Ackerman; their children and grandchildren; Aunt, Margaret Ackerman, Bethlehem, wife of the late Michael Ackerman, Sr.; cousin, Robert A. Ackerman, Allentown, husband of Gloria Ackerman, cousin, Marie Werkheiser, Bath, wife of the late Herbert Werkheiser, Jr., cousin, Frank Ackerman, Bethlehem, wife of Bonnie Ackerman, cousin, Nicholas Ackerman, Jr., Bethlehem, wife of Shirley Ackerman, cousin, Jayne McDonough, of Wildwood Crest, NJ; numerous cousins, neighbors, and friends.

Services: 11 a.m. Thursday, December 19, 2013 A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Incarnation of Our Lord Parish, 617 Pierce St., Bethlehem, PA 18015, where relatives and friends may call from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the church. Interment will be in Holy Saviour Cemetery, Bethlehem. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, to the church. Dr. Bobs arrangements are entrusted to Cantelmi Funeral Home, Fountain Hill.

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