Paul Albert Kaufman, 100 years and 4 months, died Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in West Liberty.
He was born in Dhamtari, India, on Oct. 3, 1913, a son of Mennonite missionaries in India.
Paul grew up surrounded by Indian friends and culture as well as the Mennonite mission community. He attended elementary school in Nainital, then Woodstock School in Mussoorie, where he graduated in 1930, valedictorian in a class of 13 students.
At age 17, in the early years of the Great Depression, he left India and his family for the United States to study. He found work on his uncle Emmanuel Schertz’s farm in Lowpoint, Ill., until he enrolled at Goshen College in 1932. After two years, he needed money in order to continue his studies, so he left Goshen to work as a farm laborer in Colorado and California. He then hitchhiked and “rode the rails” to Portland, Ore., where his older brother Russell lived. There he worked in a washboard and ladder factory and saved enough to return to Goshen. He met Beulah Troyer at Goshen College, graduated in 1937, and they were married in 1939.
Pursuing an interest in photography, he opened a studio in Casey, Ill., which survived in spite of the bad economy and the small size of the town. Required to take up an “essential occupation” during the war, he taught high school science and math. He was able to keep his photographic business going, and even expanded it with Beulah’s help. In 1945, he moved the family, now with two children, to Beulah’s home community of Elida, and opened a photographic studio in nearby Delphos.
In 1952, he felt called to help with a startup congregation, now Owl Creek Mennonite Church, in rural southern Ohio. There, he and Beulah supported their family by teaching in a neighboring county, which meant driving over gravel roads to school 45 minutes each way every day. Yet they still had energy to devote to visiting people in the community on behalf of the new church.
In 1957, they moved to Orrville, where he returned to the photographic business from which he retired in 1978. In 1983, Beulah suffered a disabling stroke, and in 1984 they moved to Arcadia, Fla., where they had been spending winters for several years. There, he cared for Beulah, constantly inventing and building devices to help her cope with her disability, until her death in 1993.
In 1994, he began a new life chapter when he married Carol Glick. When Carol was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they decided to move to the Green Hills Community, West Liberty, where they lived together until Carol passed away in early 2008.
He married Bertha Hartzler King in June 2008 and they lived together at Green Hills. Throughout all three of his marriages, he gave more than a full measure of devotion and care to his partners.
Paul had a lifelong creative energy, which he expressed not only in his photographic work, but also in oil paintings, drawings, and wood carvings. In southern Ohio, he was called on to teach subjects such as ceramics, copper enamel and leather carving, which he saw as yet another opportunity to learn and practice new art forms. Even in his late 90s, he took up pyrographics and scratch-board art, producing pieces for which he won local and regional awards. He was also a skilled woodworker, gardener, stone polisher, jump-rope jumper, and collector of hats and cameras, as well as an avid reader, walker, golfer, and swimmer.
He was a merry prankster who used the “dribble glass” and the “plate lifter” to break the ice with new acquaintances invited to Sunday dinner. He learned to play hymns on the organ and on a recorder, and even began to learn to play a guitar.
Bilingual in Hindi and English from birth, he enjoyed learning a bit of the local language in many of the countries he visited. He studied Spanish, and in his 90s he began to study French, with a student as his tutor.
He loved being outdoors and played golf regularly, including on the day after his 100th birthday when he played nine holes with his regular golf buddies and several family members.
Paul was deeply involved in the life of each community where he lived and worked, and he always brought his Christian faith to this involvement. He took an active and compassionate interest in all of the people he met. He brought unconventional and stimulating insights to these interactions, and he encouraged and helped many people to improve their lives. He was a deeply loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Beulah Troyer Kaufman; his brother, Russell; his second wife, Carol Glick Kaufman; and his daughter-in-law, Linda Kaufman.
He is survived by his sister, Kathryn Matson; his sister-in-law, Mary Ann Troyer Litwiller; his third wife, Bertha Hartzler King Kaufman; her children, David King, Kathleen King Cunningham, Robert King, Phillip King and Marlin King; several nieces and nephews; his children, Stanley and Marilyn Kaufman Brown; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at South Union Mennonite Church, West Liberty.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to South Union Mennonite Church Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 579, West Liberty OH 43357; or Mennonite Central Committee/India P.O. Box 500, Akron PA 17501-0500.