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In Memory of . . . Robert F. Kaufmann

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011

The Rev. Dr. Robert F. Kaufmann died on December 21, 2010 of bone cancer. Dr. Kaufmann was 89 years old.

Dr. Kaufmann was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 24, 1921, to Melvin and Vera Kaufmann. In 1970, at the age of 48, he received his M.Div. from Starr King School. He earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from United States International University in 1975.

He was called to the Emerson Unitarian Church in Canoga Park, CA, serving from 1969 to 1973, and was ordained there in 1970. In 1973, he was called to the Throop UU Church in Pasadena, CA, serving until 1985.

Dr. Kaufmann then began a series of interim ministries that spanned many years. He served at the following churches: Unitarian Church of Auckland, New Zealand; the Unitarian Church of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; Fourth Universalist Society, New York, NY; UU Congregation of Columbia, MD; UU Church of Long Beach, CA; UU Church of Studio City, CA; East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, WA; First Unitarian Church, Berkeley, CA; UU Fellowship of Boca Raton, FL; First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, MN; New York Society for Ethical Culture; First UU Congregation of the Palm Beaches, FL; and UUs of San Mateo, CA. Many of these interim ministries resulted in substantial increases in attendance, membership, and pledging. The Long Beach congregation named him Minister Emeritus in 1991 in recognition of his accomplishments as their interim.

Dr. Kaufmann served the denomination as President and Good Officer of the Pacific Southwest Chapter of the UU Ministers Association. He also served on the Advisory Council for Accredited Interim Ministers. "Bob Kaufmann’s Mad World,” a satirical news column published in UU World among other papers, was named the nation’s best in the Variety of Topics category by the National Newspaper Association in 1968.

Active at the local and national level in numerous organizations, Dr. Kaufmann chaired the Board of the Southern California Urban Coalition and was president of the Pasadena Chapter of ACLU. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Pasadena NAACP; the National Committee on Prevention & Control of Delinquency, I. A. C. P; and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He received the Distinguished Community Service Award from the National Urban Coalition. Most recently, Dr. Kaufmann presided over The Ethical Community Charter School Foundation, an organization which opened two charter schools in Fall 2009.

Prior to studying for the ministry, Dr. Kaufmann worked in a variety of professions - business, finance, journalism, television, public relations, and construction. He wrote for the Alan Young Show and recorded a comedy album for Decca Records, "A Trip Through A Blown Mind.” His poetry has appeared in several anthologies and recently he self-published "I Love You, I Think, Or I Would If I Knew What It Meant: 27 Chapters of Wit & Wisdom on Life, Laughter, and Love.” (

Dr. Kaufmann is survived by his wife Arlene; his daughter, Susan Kaufmann of Bellevue, WA; his son, Richard Kaufmann, and daughter-in-law, Pamela Kaufmann of San Diego, CA; a grandson, Robert Kendrick, and granddaughter, Dana Kendrick, both of Bellevue, WA.

A celebration of the life of Dr. Robert Kaufmann will be held on Sunday, January 23, at 2:00 p.m. at East Shore Unitarian Church, 12700 Southeast 32nd Street, Bellevue, WA. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, you may donate to The Ethical Culture Charter School Foundation (TECCS) at,or by sending a check to: Dr. Judith D. Wallach, Vice President, 101 Central Park West, 1A, New York, NY 10023-4250.

Please send messages of condolence to Arlene Kaufmann, 401 – 100th Ave. NE #326, Bellevue, WA 98004.

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