Bill Kaufmann was a gentleman, a publisher, a scholar, an essayist, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a golfer, a fisherman, and a friend. He was born December 18, 1925, in Oneonta, New York. He graduated from Stamford Central School as valedictorian of the class of 1943. He then served as an Electronic Technician’s Mate in the U.S. Navy, Pacific Theater, until May 1946. Grateful all his life for the GI Bill, he was awarded an AB degree in June 1951 by Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, with class honors in English Literature and Art, and election to Phi Beta Kappa.
After graduation from Hamilton College, he joined The Ronald Press Company as a college traveler in New England, the Middle Atlantic States, and Eastern Canada. In 1955 he was recruited by W. H. Freeman & Company as a Field Editor. He and his family relocated to Los Altos, CA., in 1962. At Freeman he served as Editor, Vice President, and President until his departure in 1971.
He launched William Kaufmann, Inc., in 1972 as a family enterprise, publishing a joyously eclectic assortment of projects (from the California Water Atlas to a wildly successful graphic calculus primer, to a richly annotated edition of The Hunting of the Snark), achieving profitability in its fourth year. He organized programs for the annual meetings of the American Library Association, courses about West Coast publishing for UC Berkeley, and basic publishing skills courses at University of Denver and Stanford University. He also conducted a fishing class at Stanford University.
In 1973 Bill accepted an invitation to serve as consultant to the Board of Directors of Annual Reviews, a highly successful publisher of unique scholarly volumes across a challenging array of sciences. From the mid-1970s to 1995 he served as Editor-in-Chief and interim EIC, guiding the organization into new fields and stabilizing its modernization. Throughout the publishing worlds touched by both William Kaufmann, Inc., and Annual Reviews, Bill was admired for his open-minded good sense, managerial patience, collegial fairness, and integrity. He enjoyed easy friendships with innumerable eminent scientists and educators. Bill was an accomplished fly fisherman and a founding member of the Mr. Flood Society. He was a passionate collector of rare (or sometimes just irresistible) books.
Bill married Virginia Marie Hanlon on December 31, 1945. They had two children: Gary, who died in 1967, and Gail, who is married to Thom Riley and has 2 sons, Ben and Thad. Bill loved being a Grandfather. He was happily married until Virginia died on December 15, 2005. Bill loved books, fishing, golf, baseball, ice cream, bananas and a good joke. On the afternoon of August 3, 2013, with his daughter Gail at his side holding his hand, Bill died, completing the life begun 87 years ago. In Bill’s heaven, the fish are always biting, and every golf ball obeys the strokes of a dauntless imagination.
At Bill’s request there will be no memorial service. Donations to Pathways Home Health & Hospice, 585 North Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 are encouraged