Eulogy for my Dad

October 27, 2019

Daniel Jacob Kauffman was born in Toronto on Wednesday January 23, 1935. Both his mother Rose and father Sidney were from Odessa in the Ukraine and came to Canada to escape rising anti-seminitism in the Ukraine in the early 20th century.

Dan had a partial albinism, so was very fair in complexion and had to wear glasses from the time he was two years old. He burned easily at a time sunscreen was an unknown technology.

He grew up mainly with Rose being a single mother and bread-winner as Sidney was away travelling for work and later developed tuberculosis and stayed in a sanitorium. 

In high school had a great group of friends, who called themselves the Harbard 5 and they maintained those friendships for many years, with Norm Perry of CTV and Tom Alderman, Lionel Solursh and Marty Poizner. While he hoped to go into law, finances didn’t allow for that to happen, so Dan was very happy to see his grandson Sol enter Law school. Instead, Dan attended a broadcast school in Los Angeles, where Rose and Sidney had moved for the climate. Dan worked in TV for 45 years, through what he called the Golden Age of Television. He was a film editor at CBC when his friend Al Guest encouraged him to invest $1,000 in a short-lived company that they formed to create animated TV commercials.

On a trip to Vancouver Dan stayed with his cousin Eddy Levinson at his house on Granville and 22dn ave, just a block away from the hospice Dan would spend his last week. In Vancouver Dan went to a Bnai Brith mixer and met Esther. Esther found Dan to be both a gentleman and a gentle man, and in spite of her parents disapproval, went with him back to Toronto where they were married in the Rabbi’s study. 

They lived in a small house on Avenue Road, and had one baby, which was me. Dan’s grandfather Elia Goldstein was still alive and was active in the Minsker Ferbund, a small shul of old timers.

When CFRN opened its doors as an affiliated station of the new CTV Network in 1960 Dan, we moved to Edmonton where we lived in a four-plex and Dan’s career in Television flourished. He worked as a writer of commercials, as a director, then found his stride as a producer of a local news programs and documentaries. He produced a weekly women’s show in the 60s – called Morning Magazine, and as Special Projects Manager he went on to produce several local shows and a series of documentaries including one on Douglas Cardinal, an Aboriginal architect who first designed buidings that would have been impossible without computers.

When I asked the CFRN Facebook group to describe Dan at work, three important themes emerged; 1. Dan was calm under pressure even when things went wrong during live programs, 2. He was patient and supportive of new people joining the organization, and 3. he hand-picked many promising editors, camera-people, and writers and helped them grow in their careers. When I asked for these stories before he died and read them to him in hospital, he seemed happy to know he had made a positive difference in so many people’s lives.

In 2003 Dan was diagnosed with cancer and went through a long series of chemotherapy, during which Esther drove to the hospital daily to encourage him to eat and hang in there. In the extra years she helped extend Dan’s time they still got around town, and entertained friends. When Esther’s dementia made it difficult for her to shop and to cook, they moved to Vancouver where Dan and Esther helped one another manage their apartment, and they came for many Shabbat dinners, celebrated Elia’s bar mitzvah and enjoyed Vancouver summers. 

Since Esther died in 2014 Dan has continued being part of our family, and our father-son relationship was complemented by a growing friendship. Dan was an active member of Or Shalom and celebrated his second Bar Mitzvah at 83 last January. Many Or Shalomniks missed him this year at his usual place during Rosh Hashanah.

Our family friend Virginia Macklin said something wonderful to me many years ago, that I was blessed to receive my Dad’s calm and clear-headed approach and Mom’s love of people and sense of fairness.

Dad, I am very grateful for the extra years we have had together. We’ve been able to explore topics both deep and wide, from the nature of federal and provincial politics, politicans, and voter patterns, to the various challenges and delights of parenthood. We explored pretty well every coffee shop in Vancouver at one time or another looking for the perfect mocha. I’m saying goodbye today not just to my Dad, but also to a good friend. I am relieved to know that you’re now at peace and reunited with Esther in the love that carried you both through life.