Dad with Eric

James Kauffman, formerly of Dunedin (FL), Billerica (MA), and Altoona (PA), died on July 16th. He passed quietly with family at his side. Among those who remain behind to morn his loss: his wife Kathryn, his son John, his daughters Christine and Lisa, his sister Suzanne, a nephew Glenn, as well as four grandchildren. He takes with him his dry wit, an affinity for outdoor activities (bicycling, boating, etc) that you might not guess of someone who spent his life working indoors, and devotion to a woman he could not leave behind on a Massachusetts beach – more than fifty years ago. He was 78 years old.

Jim – as he was known to family and friends – earned degrees at Penn State University and Ohio State University, concluding with a master’s degree in Physics. He went on to work as an engineer for three different employers before he retired: Block Engineering, Honeywell, and Brunswick. However, he spent the bulk of his career at Honeywell, in Clearwater, FL.

Although he could be cagey about the specifics of his job (he once got into trouble for bringing his young son to the office on the weekend), he took pride in working on various projects over the years involving manned and unmanned spaceflight. Additionally, more than one creation bears his name at the U.S. Patent Office.

He rarely missed a week of Church at his long-time parish: Lutheran Church of the Palms (Palm Harbor, FL), held a number of offices on the governing council (including president), and seldom said no when asked to serve in any capacity.

Jim leaves this life much as he lived it. He spent much of his time savoring the quiet joy of a good book or taking the quiet satisfaction of solving puzzles – in many forms – both designed and spun from life’s exquisite chaos. Through it all, he always gave much more than he received.

A private memorial service will be held in the near future.

In lieu of flowers – in line with what his family believes would be his wishes – please consider either a gift to your local church or your local NPR Station.

James William Kauffman (1942 – 2021)

Dad slipped away quietly yesterday afternoon. Christy and I held his hands as he went.
He left with much more dignity than life afforded him in these last twelve months. His inability to find the right words for speech largely became an inability to speak. He went from walking to walker to wheelchair seemingly with haste. Six months ago he still fought the limitations which both grew in number and remained undefeated. He couldn’t tell us explicitly, but he seemed resigned… ready to go. So when an infection quickly began to overwhelm yesterday…

We let him.

There are moments when I find comfort in this. My mind tells me it was the right thing to do, but my heart feels pulped, and I struggle to accept I now live in a world that no longer has my father in it.

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Just passing through

People come and go in my life, like passengers on a subway. We share a small piece of our lives until opportunity, circumstance, or chance steers us to another train. I’m used to it, and I’m not. I know it happens, then it does, and I get over it.

I’ve been really lucky. It’s been a pleasure to share my ride with most of the people I’ve bumped into along the way.

Pat was one of those people. She was an old hand when I started my career in state government. She was gracious answering questions. She was understanding when I needed to vent. She was my friend.

She was my audience when I needed reassurance before delivering a best man’s toast. She was my accomplice when stress and/or a pizza jones struck. She was there with me that day in court when it was an effort to move, listening to second and third hand reports as the country pressed pause to deal with shock and horror.

She retired years ago and we haven’t spoken since. The closest we’ve come is Christmas cards crossing in the mail. Many people have come and gone since, and I don’t think about her much any more, besides the brief updates around the holidays. But I am today, having learned she passed away on Tuesday.

Its hard to say what I feel. She was one of the people who left an impression, even though we shared a ride for a brief time. But it’s not loss I feel. It’s not regret either. Life takes people in different directions. Friends come and go, even if it’s easier for me to count them all than some.

Although I feel sad for the family I never met (it just seemed like I had), I feel thankful. I had a friend when I needed one. I feel hopeful. Every day is an opportunity to enrich someone’s life, no matter how brief the opportunity.