At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Kaufman Interfaith Institute
Shalom Hartman Institute
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Life Story / Obituary
Richard F. Kaufman passed away on November 27 after an accidental fall while vacationing with his family in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. A physically and mentally vibrant 91-year-old he lived a full and active life. Beloved by many for his generosity, kindness, and moral integrity, Dick was a pillar of strength to his family, his community, and the organizations he served.
Dick grew up in Detroit and Muskegon, Michigan, the son of an immigrant, and always remembered having been a child during the Great Depression. He graduated from Culver Military Academy, was a WWII naval veteran, and earned a B.A. from Yale University and then an MBA from Harvard Business School. After business school, he worked at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY before returning to Michigan to help his father sell the family business. In his long tenure as the company’s second- generation CEO and President, he transformed and grew Amstore, now a third-generation, 104-year-old designer and manufacturer of store fixtures for leading American retailers. He was also the founding Chair of the store fixture industry association, now called Association for Retail Environments (ARE).
He served on the boards of Chief Executives Organization (CEO) and Young Presidents Organization (YPO), where he was the international Vice Chair of education. He was actively involved with Sylvia in the Aspen Institute, the National Councils of the Aspen Art Museum, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. In Chicago they have been involved in the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and have been serving on the board of the Interfaith Youth Core.
Dick had a deep and refined appreciation of nature, culture, and travel. He cherished the magnificent summers and winters he spent with Sylvia in Aspen, where they hiked and alpine skied for forty years before taking up cross-country skiing. They traveled together to the African bush and the jungles of Papua New Guinea. A few hours before his accident, Dick and his family were swimming with dolphins in Cabo.
A passionate learner, Dick had a lifelong commitment to intellectual and spiritual growth and to improving education. In 2013, at 86, he earned a Masters in Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School. At the time of his death, he was completing a doctoral thesis on conversion in American Reformed Judaism at the University of Aberdeen. His work examines how the tradition could better embrace and welcome converts to the community. Dick’s interest in this subject grew out of his deeply held conviction that religious practice must be informed above all by a love and respect for the dignity of every human individual.
Dick and Sylvia shared a deep love of Judaism and Jewish values, which they have instilled in their children. He made it a daily practice to contribute to people in need on the street. He mentored and financially supported young people. He served multiple times as President of Temple B’nai Israel and was a pillar of the Muskegon Jewish community. He studied with Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) in Jerusalem, served as president of SHI-North America for 20 years, and was on the SHI board in Jerusalem. He was co-founder of the Sylvia and Richard Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University.
In a life of extraordinarily wide-ranging activity and professional accomplishment, Dick considered his marriage to Sylvia and the family he raised with her to be his life’s two greatest achievements. In recent years Dick would often stop and reflect on the gratitude he felt for his life with his family. Tears would sometimes come to his eyes, as he said, “I have been so blessed.”
Wife of 61 years, Sylvia; sons, Michael (Julie Hyatt) Kaufman, Andrew (Corinne Simon) Kaufman, Greg (Dafna) Kaufman, Robert (Yael) Kaufman; grandchildren, Daniel & Jonathan Kaufman, Ari, Alana & Adam Kaufman, Benjamin Kaufman, Ian & Evan Kaufman; brother, Gordon (Lorna) Kaufman; niece & nephew, Leigh & David.
Friday, December 7, 2018, 10:00 AM at Temple B'Nai Israel with Rabbi Alan Alpert officiating. Internment in Mona View Cemetery.
Thursday, December 6, 2018 3:00PM - 5:00PM at Clock Funeral Home Muskegon. MEMORIAL: In lieu of flowers, a contribution to the Kaufman Interfaith Institute (https://www.gvsu.edu/interfaith/) or the Shalom Hartman Institute (https://hartman.org.il/) would be appreciated. Please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com to leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.
The family will observe the Jewish custom of sitting shiva in Chicago at 5-7pm each night of December 9, 10 and 11 at 219 East Lake Shore Drive, Apt 5AB, during which they will receive relatives, friends, and members of the community.
Clock Funeral Home - Muskegon