Getty Cohen

Getty Cohen 1897 - 1953


Getty Cohen was by all accounts a wonderful woman.  She was popular with everyone, happy, easygoing, well travelled and loved opera.  Getty was very close to my mother, Margaret Parker (nee Caird), who was her sister Miriam's daughter.  Their other sister Kitty had married and moved to Queensland earlier on and their brother Harry was running Cohens Jewell Centre in Lismore but Getty and Miriam both lived in Mosman and spoke daily on the phone.  Mum says Getty took over the role of Grandparent after Margaret and Joseph Cohen died in the mid 1940's and describes her as a 'fairy godmother'.  Mum absolutely adored her. 

Getty was 12 years older than Miriam and, having never married, lived in Margaret and Joseph's Ruby Street home.  I can easily imagine her looking after her parents in their final years and then stepping into the role of 'Aunty'.  I asked Mum why someone as obviously popular and sociable as Getty never married.  Apparently she did have a suitor, a German fellow back in the 1930's and she went to Germany with him to meet his family.  Anti Semetic feeling was already evident in Germany then and the family urged Getty to return home.  I dont know who called off the engagement but this was the outcome and in light of subsequent events it was for the best.  It is a shame that this wonderful woman never had children of her own, I would have very much liked to know them.  Unfortunately this was only the first of two tragedies in Getty's life, the second was to end it.

Getty was on holiday in England when she noticed a lump in her breast.  She had some tests done and the results, sent to Sydney revealed terminal breast cancer with not long to live.  The family obtained the test results first and chose not to tell Getty until she returned home so as not to ruin her holiday.  After returning to Sydney, Getty never went back to Ruby Street but instead stayed at a boarding house called "Halleys" where she had care available.  Getty spent her last days at Pretoria Avenue Mosman, my mothers home, cared for by Miriam, Kitty, Phyllis (Harry's wife and a nurse) and my mother.  My mother (then about 16) remembers the day she told her mother "Aunty is making funny noises".  Miriam and whoever else was around went in to investigate and Mum heard someone cry "Oh Getty - Getty!".  Getty had lost consciousness and was transferred to hospital where she died.  Mum was devastated.  My middle name is "Getty". 


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