Jerome (Jerry) Kaufman, our most beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, mentor, friend, and colleague died peacefully at his home in Madison, Wisconsin, surrounded by his family, after a long, heroic struggle with cancer. Jerry was born in 1933, in Middletown, Connecticut and grew up in Corona, Queens, in New York City, the son of immigrant parents from Eastern Europe. He graduated from Queens College while living at home and later studied with the great urban planner Lewis Mumford at the University of Pennsylvania. He chose to became an urban planner himself and his pioneering work on racial segregation, urban poverty, and urban agriculture has helped to make the world a better place. From 1971 until his retirement in 2001, Jerry was a beloved professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UW-Madison, where generations of students were inspired by his protean interests in ethics, racial inequality, poverty, central cities, urban education, and food systems. In that last phase of his professional career, he proved instrumental in helping develop and shepherd the Troy Gardens community gardens project in Madison. From 2000 until weeks before his death, Jerry served as president of Growing Power, a Milwaukee-based grassroots organization led by the visionary urban farmer Will Allen, a group created to help people grow and eat healthy food in impoverished areas of Milwaukee, Chicago, and other American cities. Other passion throughout his life include a love of music, especially playing recorder; singing with the Madison Yiddish Choir; and listening to (and singling with) the arias of the Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling. He gained great sustenance and friendship through his participation in the Shaarei Shamayin Reconstructionist Synagogue.
Jerry is predeceased by his father, Louis Kaufman, his mother Norma Grant (Grantzitzy) Kaufman Gofberg, and his brother, Arnold Kaufman, who greatly influenced his interest in the civil rights movement and the pursuit of social and economic justice. He is survived by his life partner of 53 years, Judith Zukerman Kaufman; his two children Ariel, of Madison, and Daniel, of Brooklyn, NY; their spouses Michael Kissick and Juliette Mapp; his beloved grandsons Benjamin and Luca; and his sisters Elyse Zukerman and Betty Kaufman.
A friend remarked, as Jerry lay dying, that his eyes always radiated humanity and kindness. Even when terribly ill, those eyes still burned brightly revealing his gentle spirit, wisdom, and compassion for all people. He lives on inside all those who knew and loved him. Rest in peace, our sweet man ...we love you so.
The funeral service will be held at Monona Terrace on Monday, January 14 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to the Growing Power Vertical Farm¬-a project close to Jerry's heart, which will be named in his honor. Contributions may be made through the Growing Power website, www.growingpower.org or by mailing a check to Growing Power, 5500 West Silver Spring Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53218, with "Vertical Farm" written on the memo line.