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Thursday, October 4, 2012 | return to: supplement, seniors


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Seniors: 92-year-old to be honored for half-century of serving others

by emma silvers

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Rudy Kupfer, a 92-year-old San Rafael man and lifelong educator who fled Nazi Germany when he was 17, will be honored by the Marin County Office of Education at a ceremony next week in Petaluma.

The Tuesday, Oct. 9 event at Walker Creek Ranch will include a redwood tree–planting in honor of Kupfer’s 50 years of community service in the Bay Area. “I marvel to think of the generations of children and families whose lives were made better because of the incredible work of Rudy Kupfer,” said Mary Jane Burke, Marin County superintendent of schools, in a press release.

Kupfer said part of his secret to a long and healthy life is staying active — doing the things he loves long into retirement, including volunteering in classrooms and for a variety of community organizations. Also, he said, he tries not to dwell on the past.

Rudy Kupfer
Rudy Kupfer
“I live in the present,” said Kupfer. “My body has served me well for 92 years … and you can’t change the past, anyway. Fortunate is the one who forgets what he cannot change.”

Kupfer was born in 1920 in Nuremberg, Germany. In 1938, with his younger brother, Eric, he boarded the SS Manhattan from Hamburg to New York City, arriving in the U.S. with $10 in his pocket. His parents would die a few years later in the gas chambers.

He moved to Los Angeles within weeks of arriving in the States and finished high school before enlisting in the Army. He fought for the Allies for three years during World War II and, upon returning to California, attended U.C. Berkeley on the GI Bill. After receiving a master’s in business administration, he went to work for the Oakland Board of Education in 1952. (He would go on to receive a doctorate of philosophy in school business administration.)

Thus began 50 years in education, which included roles with the superintendent of schools in Napa and Kern counties. He then worked for the Marin County Department of Education, both in the schools and the county office, focusing on special education issues. While he was an assistant professor of special education at San Francisco State University, he also took classes at the school, in his late 40s, to stay up on current thinking around special education curriculum.

Kupfer served as coordinator in the Education for Physically Exceptional Children and Young Adults office from 1967 until his retirement in 1992. In the ’70s, he worked with Marin County State Sen. Peter Behr to create a state bill designed to expand programs for hearing-impaired children — a piece of legislation that eventually altered the state’s education code.

Kupfer’s family belonged to Congregation Rodef Sholom, where his late wife, Marcia Blumenthal Kupfer, sang in the choir. The pair had three children: Peter of New York, and Judy and David of the Bay Area. He also has two grandchildren. — emma silvers nRudy Kupfer, a 92-year-old San Rafael man and lifelong educator who fled Nazi Germany when he was 17, will be honored by the Marin County Office of Education at a ceremony next week in Petaluma.

The Tuesday, Oct. 9 event at Walker Creek Ranch will include a redwood tree–planting in honor of Kupfer’s 50 years of community service in the Bay Area. “I marvel to think of the generations of children and families whose lives were made better because of the incredible work of Rudy Kupfer,” said Mary Jane Burke, Marin County superintendent of schools, in a press release.

Kupfer said part of his secret to a long and healthy life is staying active — doing the things he loves long into retirement, including volunteering in classrooms and for a variety of community organizations. Also, he said, he tries not to dwell on the past.

 “I live in the present,” said Kupfer. “My body has served me well for 92 years … and you can’t change the past, anyway. Fortunate is the one who forgets what he cannot change.”

Kupfer was born in 1920 in Nuremberg, Germany. In 1938, with his younger brother, Eric, he boarded the SS Manhattan from Hamburg to New York City, arriving in the U.S. with $10 in his pocket. His parents would die a few years later in the gas chambers.

He moved to Los Angeles within weeks of arriving in the States and finished high school before enlisting in the Army. He fought for the Allies for three years during World War II and, upon returning to California, attended U.C. Berkeley on the GI Bill. After receiving a master’s in business administration, he went to work for the Oakland Board of Education in 1952. (He would go on to receive a doctorate of philosophy in school business administration.)

Thus began 50 years in education, which included roles with the superintendent of schools in Napa and Kern counties. He then worked for the Marin County Department of Education, both in the schools and the county office, focusing on special education issues. While he was an assistant professor of special education at San Francisco State University, he also took classes at the school, in his late 40s, to stay up on current thinking around special education curriculum.

Kupfer served as coordinator in the Education for Physically Exceptional Children and Young Adults office from 1967 until his retirement in 1992. In the ’70s, he worked with Marin County State Sen. Peter Behr to create a state bill designed to expand programs for hearing-impaired children — a piece of legislation that eventually altered the state’s education code.

Kupfer’s family belonged to Congregation Rodef Sholom, where his late wife, Marcia Blumenthal Kupfer, sang in the choir. The pair had three children: Peter of New York, and Judy and David of the Bay Area. He also has two grandchildren. — emma silvers


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