Volume 73, Number 46 | March 17 -23, 2004


Arrial Cogan, 74, leading advocate for Washington Sq.

Arrial Cogan, a founder and president of the Friends of Washington Sq. Park and a board member of the Washington Sq. Association, died at her home in the Village on March 8 at the age of 74.

She was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year, according to her daughter, Sarah Cogan Evans.

A resident of the Village for 48 years, Arrial Cogan was a longtime advocate for the preservation of the Washington Sq. Arch, the park and the neighborhood. She was a partner in the law firm of Seward & Kissel and continued to practice trust and estate law until the beginning of this year. She served for a time as warden and as a member of the vestry of Ascension Church in the Village.

“She was a dear friend — a lovely, funny and intelligent woman who was always able to see the forest as well as the trees,” said Elizabeth Butson, a longtime friend and fellow member of the Washington Sq. Association.

Born in Cleveland to Thomas Taylor Seelye and Eleanor McLoud Seelye, Cogan grew up Lima, Ohio, and earned a scholarship to Smith College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1951. She came to New York right out of college, met James R. Cogan, whom she married in 1955, and moved with him to the Village. He died in 1997.

When her children were young, she attended New York University Law School at night. She was inducted into the Order of the Coif, a law school honor society, and graduated in 1961. She became one of the first female partners in a Wall St. law firm in 1971.

“She often told us that one of her greatest experiences was moving to New York City fresh from college,” recalled her daughter, Sarah. “She loved New York and apart from summer trips to Isle au Haut in Maine, she wouldn’t live anywhere except Greenwich Village.”

Arrial Cogan was a trustee of Grace Church School for a time and enjoyed singing with her husband in the Ascension Church choir. In addition to her daughter, Sarah, another daughter, Julia Finney, of Philadelphia, a son, George, of Atherton, Calif., and nine grandchildren survive.

A memorial service was held at Ascension Church on Fri., March 12. Morehead McKim & Gallagher was in charge of funeral arrangements.


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