Robert Richard Kaufmann was born on Aug. 26, 1925, to Gus and Mable Kaufmann in Oil City, Pa. As a child his family moved to Southern California where he attended schools in Torrance, Los Angeles and Huntington Park. He was active in multiple sports including baseball and pole vaulting. In high school, he sang in the choir and performed in school musicals. He graduated from high school in June of 1943 and immediately enlisted in the United States Coast Guard
, serving his country for three years aboard the USS Pocatello in the North Pacific. He was a Sonar-man and attained the rank of Petty Officer First Class.
After the war, he worked as a logger in Oregon and in 1947 moved to Casper, Wyo., where he worked for the Socony Vacuum Oil Company and General Petroleum Corporation. He attended Casper College for a short time, and while he did not earn a degree, he did meet a cute cheerleader, Betty Knutson, and married her in 1948.
Bob moved his family to Billings in 1952 and later enrolled in Eastern Montana College of Education where he earned his bachelor's degree. He worked for a number of years for the Billings Public Schools as a sixth grade teacher at the Grand Avenue School.
In 1964, he was offered a principalship in Glasgow. Bob earned a master's degree from Montana State University.
In 1966, he was hired as the principal of Whittier Elementary School. Bob never considered his time at Whittier as work, instead choosing to serve the school, teachers and the students.
Bob was active in professional education organizations and was elected president of the Montana Association of Elementary School Principals in 1978. He was also the recipient of the first Adrian Langstaff award, the organization's highest honor for outstanding service to education.
Bob retired from his teaching and school career in 1984.
He was married to his wife, Betty, for 65 years, pretty good years he would add. Bob is survived by his wife, Betty; five children, Linda (Krenelka) of Winlock, Wash., Rob of Bozeman, Mark of Bozeman, Paula (Alberda) of Bozeman, and Ted of Seattle, Wash.; 11 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren and more than 40 foster children. A son, David, died in 1952.
Bob was a wonderful amateur photographer. He loved fly fishing on Montana streams. He hand built a number of wooden sailboats that he and Betty sailed on Montana lakes and on Puget Sound in Washington. He was an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church where he served as a choir member and Sunday school teacher. He was a past manager of the Christikon Lutheran Bible Camp on the Boulder River.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 at Christ the King Lutheran Church with a reception to follow.
Robert requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Whittier Enrichment Fund, 511 North 5th Street, Bozeman, MT 59715 (406-522-6750) or to Heritage Christian School, 4310 Durston Rd., Bozeman, MT 59718 (406) 587-9311).
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkenservice.com.