Jack J. Cohen, 87, South Jersey chairman for the Allied Jewish Appeal in the late 1970s and early 1980s, died of cancer Friday, July 26, at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Mr. Cohen, who retired as president of his family distribution firm, Cohen Dry Goods Co., when it closed in Pennsauken in 1988, was a prominent supporter of Jewish causes, son Jeffrey said.

When he joined the former Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill, his son said, he noted that its Jewish members were people with "good charitable contributions to Israel."

"I believe when he saw what they did for Israel, he became infatuated and dedicated his time to raising money for the Jewish causes."

Mr. Cohen was president of Woodcrest in the 1970s and one year he ranked as its best golfer, his son said.

Mr. Cohen's family came from humble roots.

Born in Philadelphia, he grew up in the Logan neighborhood, graduated from Olney High School, served as a medic at Philadelphia Naval Hospital, and went to work for the firm founded by his paternal grandfather, Morris Cohen.

"He was a Russian immigrant," Jeffrey said of Morris Cohen. "He used to have a pushcart and would go door to door," selling textiles, until "he got a store in South Philadelphia and started the business."

Jack Cohen took over the firm in 1968 when it was near Fourth and Bainbridge Streets, and moved it to 925 Filbert St. and finally to Pennsauken. He also opened a warehouse in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The firm, Jeffrey said, "distributed sheets, towels, and bed linens from the manufacturers to retail and speciality stores."

Because of his philanthropic work, Mr. Cohen earned the Masada Award from Israel Bonds and the B'nai Brith Presidents Award.

"He led the first Presidents Mission to Israel," his son said, to make heads of firms like his "aware of what was going on in Israel, so they would also reach out to help the Allied Jewish Appeal."

And he headed the South Jersey division for Project Renewal, which raised money to send U.S. golfers to play in the World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Mr. Cohen moved from Cherry Hill to Boca Raton, Fla. in 1988 and to Boynton Beach in 2001.

He was a volunteer at Boca Raton Community Hospital and an honorary member of the Blue and White Club, a fund-raiser for athletic teams at Lynn University there.

"He did everything" for Lynn, according to his son, including managing the scoreboard for the baseball team. The Lynn campus was near Mr. Cohen's home.

Before moving to Florida, Mr. Cohen was also a member of the Green Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill.

Besides his son, Mr. Cohen is survived by his wife Jo Anna; son Mitchell; daughters Nancy Forman and Alix Danowitz; and a grandson. He also is survived by former wives Marilyn Gray and Judith Cohen.

A funeral service was set for 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, at Rubin Memorial Chapel, 7340 Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach, Fla. 33437.

Donations may be made to www.lynnfightingknights.com.

Condolences may be offered to the family through the funeral home.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134, wnaedele@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.