The Honorable George H. Kaufman, former mayor of Jonestown, Pennsylvania, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on July 9, 2021, at the Hershey Medical Center. He was 86 years of age. In death he was preceded by his parents, J. Walter Kaufman and Rena Cassler; and twin brother, Richard. He was member of St. Davids Lutheran Church in Davidsville, PA.
George was born in Johnstown and grew up in Davidsville, where he met his high school sweetheart, Pauline Toms, who survives him. They were married for 62 years. He considered his family to be his greatest accomplishment and maintained close relationships with his three children, Michelle, who resides in Lebanon; Beth, who resides in Washington, NC; and George W., who resides in Pine Grove. He and Pauline have 11 grandchildren: Marcus Strange, Tyrus Strange, Amy Kopecky, Taylor Strange England, Richard Kopecky,III, Anna Strange, Geoffrey Kaufman, Jennifer Kaufman, Katerina Strange, Daria Strange, and Yulia Strange. Their seven great-grandchildren are: Shaunie Brady, Claire Brady, Michael Colby, Stella Strange, Marshall England, Fynn England, and Chloe Strange. He is also survived by niece Deborah Kaufman and nephew Jeffrey Kaufman.
George had a distinguished, 35-year career in the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks, where he served as a park manager, regional park manager, and completed his career in the Central Office as the Chief in charge of Operations. After retirement, he was co-founder of a Bureau retirees’ luncheon program where more than 80 former employees gather several times a year. He was an active member of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society (PRPS) Governmental Affairs Committee and the Pennsylvania State Park Society Branch of PRPS.
George served as chairman for the Lebanon County Housing and Redevelopment Authority and as a board member for many years. He also served on the board of the Lebanon Valley Conservancy. George was a leader in the Jonestown Lions Club and Paul Harris Fellow award winning charter member Northern Lebanon Rotary. He served as mayor of Jonestown Borough for 16 years from 1994 to 2009. He took great joy in having developed the Jonestown Borough Park Master Plan, which included a 16,000 sq foot playground; basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, renovated pavillion, and walking/biking trail. He secured grants and other funding to make the park, which is named in his honor, a reality. As mayor, his love of baseball was evident in his support of the Northern Lebanon Little League activities and fields, including securing funding to light the park field. In addition, George garnered community involvement with Donate-a-Tree, Donate-a-Bench, and Safe Routes to School programs in the Jonestown Borough. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Jonestown Historical Society.
George stated that his two biggest accomplishments as mayor were upgrading the town’s sidewalks and mandating a recycling program. In 2009, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs honored him as the Pennsylvania Outstanding Mayor of the Year.
George’s many volunteer activities included the Lebanon County Area Agency on Aging. He served as the Lebanon High School Band Parents President and as a Lickdale Little League baseball coach. In addition, he set up elementary school visits to town hall so children could learn about local government, and he enjoyed visiting Jonestown Elementary School to read to the students. He also served as a crossing guard for the school for many years.
George was honored in 2012 when he received the Champion of Change Award at the White House. He was also the recipient of the 2009 PRPS Governmental Award. His community involvement extended beyond Jonestown. He was instrumental in extending the rail-trail throughout Lebanon County and helping many neighboring communities as an advisor, assisting them to start new recreation boards and commissions.
After his retirement, George opened Kaufman’s Kollectables, in which he bought and sold antiques at a number of area antique co-ops.
George was a veteran of the United States Army, attended Penn State where he played baseball, and graduated from Lock Haven State Teachers College. He was an avid Pittsburgh Pirates and Penn State sports fan. One of his greatest joys was watching his grandchildren play high school and college sports.
At the time of his death, George resided in Palmyra, with his wife, Pauline.
A visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. to noon, followed by a service, on Friday, July 16, 2021 at Thompson Funeral Home, Inc., 126 South 9th Street in Lebanon. Interment will be held at a later date at the Kaufman Family Cemetery in Davidsville.
Although the family appreciates the gesture of flowers, they respectfully request that, instead, donations may be made in George’s honor to Four Diamonds 1249 Cocoa Avenue, #119, Hershey, PA 17033.
Thompson Funeral Home, Inc. has been entrusted with arrangements. Please share your memories with the family at our online guest book at thompsonfuneralhomelebanon.com