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John H. "Jack" Cogswell

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Memories & Candles

“I was very sad to hear of Jack's passing. I knew him as a wonderful, gracious and smart guy who cared deeply about making our state's health care...Read More »
1 of 13 | Posted by: Alan Raymond - Marblehead, MA

“On behalf of VNA Care and VNA Hospice and Palliative Care we extend our deepest sympathies to all of you for your great loss.-Holly Chafee and Daiva...Read More »
2 of 13 | Posted by: A friend

“I first knew Jack when he became Chair of the CareGroup Audit Committee. He was wonderful as Chair, always the gentleman, all the while insisting on...Read More »
3 of 13 | Posted by: Judy Berlin - Newton, MA

“I first met Jack when we were creating Caregroup out of a group of historically independent hospitals. It was not easy!Jack was a key to the success...Read More »
4 of 13 | Posted by: Stephen Kay - Boston, MA - Friend

“We were very sorry to hear of Jack's passing. He was such a nice guy. We always enjoyed talking to him when he came into our store. Our thoughts and...Read More »
5 of 13 | Posted by: Bernie and Cheryl Segaloff - MA

“Jack was a wonderul person who cared greatly for the community. I witnessed first hand what great things he accomplished for the town of Needham. He...Read More »
6 of 13 | Posted by: Matt Talcoff - Needham

“A wonderful man with a sense of purpose and a conscience to match ”
7 of 13 | Posted by: Helen Strieder - Jamaica Plain, MA

“A warm, humorous, generous, and gentle man. I enjoyed every moment we had together over the years. ”
8 of 13 | Posted by: Paul Levy - Newton, MA - Friend

“I write to memorialize Jack's service as Chairman of Chatham's Water & SewerAdvisory Committee to the Board of Selectmen.As a long time member of...Read More »
9 of 13 | Posted by: George Cooper - North Chatham, MA

“Jack will be greatly missed by the VNA Care Board and Staff. Jack was a tremendous supporter of VNA Cares programs and services. He held many roles...Read More »
10 of 13 | Posted by: Holly Chaffee - Worcester, MA

“Julie and Kate,I was saddened to learn that Jack had passed away.I only came to know Jack in the past year as he prepared, then joined, and in short...Read More »
11 of 13 | Posted by: Adam Block - Needham, MA

“Enjoyed him as a classmate of Dartmouth, class of 1955. Appreciated his leadership for the class and at many reunions, a talented, friendly, hard...Read More »
12 of 13 | Posted by: Roy Nyren - Gainesville, VA

“Julie and Katie, I am so very sorry for your loss. What a wonderful man your dad was. I'll miss seeing Jack's whole-hearted smile and his genuine...Read More »
13 of 13 | Posted by: Molly Karlson - Sandwich, MA


John H. ("Jack") Cogswell of Needham (formerly of Chatham) passed away peacefully on Friday, June 1, 2018 with his daughters by his side. Beloved husband for 59 years of Patricia A. "Pat" (Morrissey) Cogswell. Jack is survived by his daughters Julie A. Stone of Amesbury, Catherine J. Sanders and her husband Timothy P. Sanders of Uxbridge as well as his three grandsons, Jacob A. Stone, Isaac J. Stone and Kiernan J. Sanders.
Born and raised in northern New York, Jack lived most of his adult life in Needham, Massachusetts where he raised his family. Jack was a proud graduate of Dartmouth College, class of 1955 and member of the Alpha Theta fraternity. He obtained his Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering in 1956. He served in the Army Reserves from 1956 through 1963, achieving the rank of Captain.
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, in 1956 he began his 34-year career at the New England Telephone Company, later known as NYNEX. His first position at the company was as a pole climber; by the time he retired in 1990, he had achieved the position of Secretary & Treasurer.
Jack loved Needham, which was obvious to anyone who knew him. He and his family lived in Needham four separate times between 1956 and 2018, with the bulk of that time spent in the John Mills house on Great Plain Ave. The final few years of Jack's life were spent in North Hill.
Starting in 1975, Jack served as a Needham Town Meeting Member (where his "bubble speech" will go down in infamy). For the next 40 years, he became involved in more and more committees and Boards within the town, serving on the Planning Board, the Board of Appeals and the Board of Selectman as well as several sub-committees. Jack was also the host of the "Talk of the Town" TV show on the Needham Channel. He felt strongly that there were aspects of the Town infrastructure and Government that the residents didn't necessarily understand but should. He loved making these shows and was proud of the many compliments he received from the town residents.
Another passion of his was the Needham Historical Society (now called the Needham History Center & Museum). From 1975 until his death in 2018, Jack was actively involved with the organization, serving at times as Treasurer, Director and Trustee of the endowment fund. This organization was important to him as was the preservation of the history of Needham.
Jack extended his love to the town of Chatham in his retirement years. In 2010, Jack and Pat bought a small Cape house in Chatham where they would spend their winters. As he said, once the "tourists took over Chatham, they would return to the safety of Needham". Not surprisingly, Jack became involved in the Chatham town politics during those years, participating in several sub-committees focused on the town infrastructure and financing and helping to recruit others to do likewise.
Jack's accomplishments were not limited to local politics. He was also very influential in Massachusetts Healthcare. His passion for the healthcare industry began when he was the Secretary & Treasurer of the New England Telephone Company. It was during this time that he started focusing on the company benefit packages. From 1983 until the end of his life, he was actively engaged in healthcare-related organizations. Some of his most important accomplishments in this area include:
• He was instrumental in forming the Health Action Forum, a coalition of all participants in healthcare in the Greater Boston area.
• He led the effort to merge the Glover Hospital with the Deaconess Medical Center of Boston, which enabled both hospitals to establish a profitable business model and successful model for hospital collaboration across the state.
• He was an incorporator of the Neighborhood Health Plan; an H.M.O. based on Community Health Centers which serves the inner cities of Massachusetts.
• For nearly two decades, Jack helped manage the MDA Labor Day Telethon at Boston's Channel 5 studio.
In addition to these, Jack served on many other healthcare committees, consortiums and groups, represented the business community on many governmental and legislative healthcare committees and received countless awards including "volunteer of the year" in 1992 from the Combined Health Appeal of America. In 2010, the Town of Needham held a tribute to Jack for all the work he had done over the years. State Representatives and Town Representatives, not only from Needham, but neighboring towns, came to the event to thank him and show their appreciation for him.
But Jack wasn't "all about work". He and his wife loved to go to the Brandywine area of Pennsylvania to explore "Wyeth's world". They also enjoyed San Francisco, New Orleans and the Cayman Islands. Internationally, they took time to explore Scotland, England, Prague and Budapest. But the place where he spent most of his vacations with his family was Monhegan Island in Maine. He loved wandering the cliffs and sitting in his "spots" on the rocks watching the seals, seagulls and waves, walking the miles of trails and enjoying the peace of the Island.
A Memorial Service followed by a reception will be held at the Christ Episcopal Church in Needham, MA on June 21 at 11am. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jack's name may be made to the Needham History Center & Museum, 1147 Central Ave, Needham, MA 02492.