Community Mourns Loss Of "Ithaca Is Gorges" Creator

By Justin Culligan

July 22, 2010 Updated Feb 18, 2008 at 7:30 PM EDT

A somber day in Ithaca as the city mourns the loss of Howard Cogan, a man who lived there for much of his life and loved the area.

He passed away on Saturday after a 6-year battle with Alzheimer's.

But he leaves behind a legacy that's truly larger than life.

Ithaca is gorges.

It's a popular catch phrase that long time area residents have probably heard on more than a few occasions.

Originally intended to be an inside joke between Howard Cogan and his friends, those three words quickly grew into an Ithaca sensation.

The phrase has appeared on t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers.

Maybe you even own one.

But today, many residents are taking some time to reflect on just what those words mean to them.

"His destination slogan really, really captures the Ithaca experience," says Tompkins County Director of Tourism, Fred Bonn.

"The diversity, the friendliness, the opportunities for a lot of different activities....and the beauty," says Joanne Wietgrefe of Ithaca.

Beauty that, in the eyes of Howard Cogan, needed to be advertised to the world.

But the popular catch phrase certainly wasn't his only contribution to the community.

He also managed an award-winning advertising agency, and taught advertising and public relations courses at Ithaca College.

Not surprisingly, it was a full house at today's funeral held at the Temple Beth-El in Ithaca.

During the memorial, stories were exchanged about a man whose legacy is truly bigger than life.

"Howard Cogan; radio personality, newspaper man, advertising guru, college professor, devoted husband and father. He was a package deal," says Brodhead.

"With his clients it wasn't just a business relationship, it was a personal relationship. More often than not a long-standing one. Their success was his success," says Brodhead.

It was a bittersweet proceeding in a city mourning the loss of one of its proudest citizens.

But the beauty that Cogan loved so much about Ithaca will inevitably return.

After all, Ithaca is gorges.

Cogan is survived by three children and his wife of fifty seven years.

Although the funeral was held Monday, a memorial service is tentatively planned for a later date at Ithaca College.

The family would like those wishing to express their sympathy to make a donation to the Alzheimer's Association of Central New York, or the Howard and Helen Cogan AdLab Fund at Ithaca College.

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