Martin Cobin passed away in Louisville, Colorado, on November 5, 2014, quickly, peacefully and at home, as he wanted. He was born in New York City to Rose and Joseph Bernard Cohen on October 20, 1920.
Martin married June Peterson during World War II and served in the occupation of Japan at the same time that he was starting a family. The images of war had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he strove to use artistic expression to create compassion and understanding.
He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and went on to teach speech, communication, and theater at West Virginia University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Colorado in Boulder. He became a director, producing director of, and occasionally an actor in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Martin grew up Jewish but left Jewish practice as a teenager, already questioning the conflict between the sense of belonging and excluding others. While he was away at war, June joined the Society of Friends in Madison, Wisconsin. Martin found that Fox’s teaching that there is that of God in everyone spoke to his condition and became active in the Madison Meeting. Later he started a Quaker Meeting in Morgantown, West Virginia where he lived. When they moved to Urbana, Illinois, he became a member of that Meeting, and transferred his member to Boulder Meeting in 1962.
He came to Quakers as a seeker of a different concept of God, a concept that embraced inclusivity, community, and justice. It was important to him that we accept that he was a non-Christian Quaker and all his life he avidly studied the world’s religions. He found God in the power of relationships. Martin was Clerk of Intermountain Yearly Meeting, and of Boulder Meeting, and served on many committees: AFSC, Peace & Social Justice, Right Sharing of World Resources, and Native American Concerns/Indigenous Peoples Concerns.
Martin’s lifetime search for a sense of relationships and belonging made him a deeply introspective man. His interests were humanistic and world-wide and he studied passionately the impact of communication on human affairs. He succeeded translating the fruits of his search into action at home and in his extended travels.
He and June spent several years with the AFSC’s International Affairs, East Asia project and a year as the directors of Casa de los Amigos in Mexico City. Martin marched in Selma, Alabama, taught Alternatives to Violence in prisons, and was always especially concerned about Native Americans and indigenous peoples all over the world.
Over his long life, beside textbooks in his field and plays Martin wrote a Pendle Hill Pamphlet, a couple of manuscripts about his understanding of God and religions, several books of poetry, and eventually a novel near the culmination of his life. The deep bonds of love, friendship, and mutual understanding that Martin shared with his wife June, who died in 2010, were his constant companions. His faithful inward search for truth, for what it means to belong to a group without being exclusive, for understanding and being understood, for communicating the truths given to him, were an inspiration to many of us.
Martin is survived by his children, Lyn Gullette, Gail Moscoso, Kit Warner, and Peter Cobin, and by 7 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, and a sister, Leonore Fleming.
A Meeting for Worship to celebrate Martin’s life was held on November 16, 2014. Martin was an extraordinary man who lived a full and rich life. He touched the lives of many others, and he will be missed.