Marjorie R. Kaufman
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SOUTH HADLEY - The Mount Holyoke College and wider town community are mourning the loss of Marjorie R. Kaufman, a beloved member since 1954, who passed away on Oct. 30, 2012.

She was born May 24, 1922, in Milwaukee, Wis., to Nathan and Helen Kaufman. Her father instilled in her a lifelong sense of community service and her own ebullient personality and sharp intellect contributed to the warm esteem she enjoyed from generations of college students, colleagues and friends.
As former students who became dear friends will testify, her gift for teaching was matched by her gift for friendship. In both, her generosity of spirit shone through every honest critique and every kind gesture.

Marjorie was educated at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Washington and received her Ph.D in English Literature for a dissertation on Henry James from the University of Minnesota.

She loved to communicate her enthusiasm for literature and never quite gave up teaching even after her retirement from the College. She was a founding member in 1989 of the Five College Learning in Retirement Program. Her commitment to lifelong learning led her to be a propelling member of the College's Frances Perkins program for mature students and eventually to lead several groups in Reading and Poetry Writing for the wider community's senior population. In the Reading group she tackled Homer, Cervantes and Proust with her usual care and delight, bringing these 'worthy' works to life in her inimitable way until after her 90th birthday.

She was proud to be elected as a County Commissioner for the years 1995-1998, and she served continuously as a town meeting member since 1988. Her wry comment on that role was that it was a "matter of putting my seat where my mouth's been!" It was still important to her in 2011, to the extent that she gave up an opera ticket to attend an all-day meeting.

She is survived by her goddaughter Kerry Dinh and her family of Northampton.
A service to celebrate her remarkable life will be held on a date to be announced.

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Nov. 2, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Karen Kelly Becker
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56 entries
October 27, 2020
Miss Kaufman remains in my thoughts and my MHC memories as an outstanding person and teacher. I love thinking about her and about how much I learned from her! RIP, Miss Kaufman.
Waltraut Benke Lehmann '76
November 7, 2017
Five years & a few days after Marjorie Kaufman's death, I've decided to reread all the inspiring tributes that appeared in her guest book, most written by former Mount Holyoke students who benefited from her wit, wisdom, and compassion. I had her for 2 courses, including American Lit, & I was sitting in her classroom on that November day when we received the tragic news of President Kennedy's death. Somehow, she knew exactly how to respond, comforting us & allowing us to speak out. By the way, please note that since Marjorie's guest book is permanently available online, you can add a reminisce any time you want to do that.
Karen Kelly Becker '65
February 16, 2013
Ms. Kaufman is how I think of Marjorie - a wise woman. In a senior seminar I took with her, I learned a lesson of a lifetime. I had survived a serious bike accident resulting in a close head injury. Believing my brain was working better than ever, I submitted a paper to Ms. Kaufman and believed it would just so please her. With reluctance, she returned my paper to me. Not sure I remember which was redder the markings on my paper or my eyes. Ms. Kaufman explained tenderly,she could not assign it a grade. She said, give your brain time to heal but keep exercising it.

Ms. Kaufman's love of learning and teaching was infectious. Her encouraging words have been a mantra for me as I have struggled to overcome academic and professional challenges.
Cynthia Aziz '82
November 30, 2012
Miss Kaufman was my Freshmen English Composition teacher. Since I just read that she came to Mt. Holyoke in '54, I must have had her in her second year of teaching. I will never forget how much she encouraged me. I remember a conference with her where she told me I could write! No one had ever told me that before! I never forgot that message!
Alix Paschen Pratt
November 29, 2012
I still tell the following story: I was a student in Prof. Kaufman's 2nd semester Am. Lit. class. She gave a pop quiz on "Moby Dick" which over half of us failed. So, she kicked us out of class and told us, without the usual twinkle in her eye, not to return till we had finished. A dropped pin could be heard in the classroom and nobody budged. We didn't believe her. She repeated herself and told us to leave. We slunk out of class, unbelievably embarrassed. Needless to say, we never showed up again unprepared.
Edie Quinby '91
November 19, 2012
She was my freshman advisor and one of the most memorable professors in my four years there. I'm sorry our class will not have the pleasure of her company at our upcoming 50 th reunion. I don't remember her clothes but her smile, her eyes and her enthusiasm is in my mental memory book.
Elizabeth Burton
November 19, 2012
I think that most of us who had Miss Kaufman remember her in several ways,--as tough but terrific, as well as funny. I had her for Freshman composition or whatever that first course was that we had to take. I still remember her comment to this Vermonter on what was apparently turgid prose: "You have a "granite" style. Native?!!"
She will be missed.
Margaret Neuse
November 17, 2012
I join the throngs who will never forget her, with the deepest of gratitude. As a fledgling freshman writer, she gave me courage to find my own voice and way with words. I felt known and validated for who I was and how I spoke in words whilst, all the while, she gently guided that process to a far more effective voice. A teaching marvel who was one of MHC's greatest gifts to all of us!
Helen Malina, '67
November 17, 2012
Marjorie Kaufman was my freshman advisor and English teacher.... always reassuring as an advisor and always an insightful and constructive critic as a teacher. After sitting in her class for the first few weeks and being energized by her intellect, style, and knowledge, I remember telling my folks that I was so pleased at the high level of the class and "yay! I'm in college now!"
Elaine Browning '81
November 17, 2012
I can still remember exactly where I was sitting in the MHC classroom as Miss Kaufman took us on a trip down the Mississippi with Huck Finn or in search of the great white whale. She continues to be an inspiration and a strong influence in all the reading and writing I have done over many years. Probably she is the reason I am teaching today. It was a privilege to have been her student.
Elizabeth Tannenbaum '68
November 15, 2012
Miss (as we called her then) Kaufman was the most inspirational and memorable college teacher I had. I was lucky enough to have her as my freshman English teacher and advisor. She taught me to read and to write and had a wonderful sense of humor. Although i had no contact with her after i left MHC inn 1961 to transfer to Barnard, she has lived on in my memory. For some reason, as i was looking at my alumnae magazine today, i was inspired to "Google" her name and find out what she was up to. Alas, I found that she had recently passed on. I welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to her and bid her a fond farewell.
Anne Goll Shapiro
November 15, 2012
Dear Marjorie: I met you when I was 13 years old when you came to live in my Mother's(Kathleen M. Lynch)house. You brought me much love, stability, and understand - you were like a big sister - thank you. We lost contact over the years, but last year when I came to South Hadley to visit my old childhood friend, Linda O'Conner Scott, we came to your lovely house, and had the best visit. You were so happy to see that I had really survived many ups-and-downs over the years. You were so proud of me, and I was so glad to see you again. We will "meet" again, and you will be able to give me the "record player from my 16 Birthday that my mother took away"! Love you forever dear, very special friend, Liz -"kiddo"
Elizabeth "Liz" Lynch Rabke
November 15, 2012
Cheers to Marjorie! a gifted teacher
Ms. Kaufman was one of my favorite teachers at MHC. I remember showing her a self portrait in pencil pre-freshman year and a self portrait post first semester-- a drawing more intense and serious. I was growing up and she was supporting the emerging woman I was becoming. Cheers to Marjorie! Love, Carrie (Upshaw) Cardwell, Mt Holyoke Class of '82.
Carrie (Upshaw) Cardwell
November 15, 2012
Ms Kaufman was an inspiring teacher and a loving soul. As a member of the Class of 1962, I was thrilled to have been able to share my 50th reunion with Ms. Kaufman as she celebrated her 90th birthday. What a joy it was to see her there - full of life and ideas. She leaves a legacy of MHC women who were influenced by her profound wisdom and thirst for knowledge. I am proud to have been one of them.
-Judith Lonnquist, Seattle, WA
November 15, 2012
Fifty-three years have not dimmed my memories of my Freshman English Lit class with Ms. Kaufman. She had a wonderful influence on me and I treasure those memories.
Peggy Leaman Burton "59
November 15, 2012
As my advisor and my professor, Miss Kaufman was enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring. I admired her well-placed irreverence as much as her love of literature.
Wendy Adler Jordan '68
November 15, 2012
Her remarkable voice continues, in our hearts and in our memories, and I am certain, in the Universe we have not yet discovered. Judy Emerson
November 14, 2012
I will never forget her and her brilliance.
PAULA Parsky
November 14, 2012
She was the best English teacher I ever had. Her 19th-early 20th century British lit class was phenomenal. She was so enthusiastic, and so brillant. She opened up the world of Virginia Wolfe for me.
Helga Lemke
November 14, 2012
Ms. Kaufman was one of the best, if not the best, profressor when I attended Holyoke. She made Gravity's Rainbow comprehensible and fun. She both challenged and encouraged her students to do their best. Allison Thomas '81
November 14, 2012
Miss Jean Kaufman, So many years later I can still see you and feel your influence on me. Urging efforts to excel, to take on challenges, to look carefully and thoughtfully at what I read. And always with a smile even while demands were high and critiques not always flattering. You are a lasting part of who I am. Thank you.
Laurie Huberman
November 14, 2012
Miss Kaufman taught me ('59) and both my daughters ('83 & '86), a fact which delighted her, and us too. She had a remarkable presence and is at the top of my most memorable teachers list.
Jann Braudis Brown '59 Union, NJ
Jann Braudis-Brown
November 14, 2012
Of all the teachers that I had at Mount
Holyoke, there is none that I have thought about as often or remembered with as much gratitude and affection as
Marjorie Kaufman.
I considered myself privileged to have
been in her freshman English class and
it was an extraordinary experience for me to see her and express my gratitude to her at my 50th reunion.

Louise Weintraub '61
November 14, 2012
We members of the Class of '58 arrived on campus at just about the time Marjorie Kaufman did, and from the get-go she was a vibrant presence. Her exuberance for learning lives on in those of us fortunate enough to have known her.
Judith McCaffrey
November 14, 2012
I enjoy great memories of Miss Kaufman as one of the very best teachers I ever had. She and Miss Sudrann were inspiring, smart, funny; they also hosted lovely student gatherings at their house. Miss Kaufman was just the right task-mistress I needed, firm, and kind, and able to bring out the best work I could do. I know she will be missed, and what a loss to the MHC community this is -- but also, how grateful we should be she was with us for so long!
Waltraut Benke Lehmann '76
November 14, 2012
Marjorie Kaufman was an inspiration and a reason to be mischievous when I was a senior. Her class was an amazing exercise in reading and understanding. We took beer to her house when we graduated and made her drink it with us! Later, when I was teaching, she invited me to come out and have lunch with her. I was thrilled. She had a marvelous sense of humor and was a fabulous teacher! What a loss but all of us enjoyed the gift of her presence. I loved her dramatic flair.
Ellen Katz Moore '66
November 14, 2012
Thank you, Miss Kaufman, for making my life fuller and more interesting than it would have been. And thank you, Mount Holyoke.
Margaret Michaud
November 14, 2012
I still chuckle at the visual memory of Marjorie Kaufman puncturing the pomposity out of Milton's Lucifer. And then there was Henry James! Between Marjorie and Miss Sudrann he presented himself a palpable and important presence who has never quite left my side. Neither have they. My own decades of teaching carried recurring images of them before me. I salute Marjorie as she continues pioneering on ahead.
Susannah Harris-Wilson '61
November 14, 2012
Gígja Friðgeirsdóttir
Gigja Fridgeirsdottir
November 14, 2012
I will always remember Professor Kaufman with deep appreciation and gratitude.
Andrea Cardarelli Martin, '70
November 14, 2012
I was lucky enough to have Miss Kaufman as my advisor as well as a professor for several classes. I admired her so very much and she and Jean Sudrann made me cherish my decision to major in English. Miss Kaufman was a tough judge of written work but she could offer criticism in a way that made you want to rework an idea until you got it just right. I still strive to be precise with my writing to this day. She will be missed.
Mary Louise Bond
November 14, 2012
Ms. Kaufman directed my honors thesis on the novels of Samuel Beckett, guiding me to a Summa Cum Laude degree and a career as a professor of English literature. Her standards were rigorous, her support unwavering, and her sense of humor wicked. She and Ms. Sudrann were extraordinary readers, teachers, and mentors; without them, I would not be the teacher and scholar I am today.
Liz Bohls '79
November 14, 2012
As a rather anxious freshman, overawed by the fact that I was actually at MHC,I am eternally thankful that Marjorie Kaufman was one the first of many inspirational teachers I encountered. She had true charisma. I can picture her still after 50 years!
Marcia Kiehle Cunningham
Class of '61
November 14, 2012
She instilled in me my love for American Literature, and my love of writing about it.
Ellen Engelke
November 14, 2012
What a great loss! She was an inspiration to so many of us. I last saw her at our 45th reunion almost ten years ago and was looking forward to another conversation. So sad that she is gone.
November 14, 2012
During my years at Mt.Holyoke there were no two cooler literary ladies than Jean Sudrann and Margery Kaufman. If I had felt better about life back then, I would have aspired to sit at their table, as so many alumnae before and after me did. We were indeed blessed. Hope to meet up with them in heaven some day and make up for the lost opportunities.
Sheila Callahan
November 14, 2012
Misses Kaufman and Sudrann were our models of intellect and compassion. Welcoming hungry students to watch a public tv version of Waiting for Godot, unravelling Pnin, Under the Volcano, Lolita, Murphy, Watt. All during the philosophical angst of a wonderful English dept deciding how to handle the campus strikes of Cambodia/Vietnam. Revamping the English comprehensive exams. I feel their incisive reading skills and wicked humor every time I open a book. What an honor to be part of a college that gave Margery Kaufman a home -- where she could flourish, nurture and give to so many young women.
Adria Bates '72
November 14, 2012
Marjorie Kaufman was one of the reasons I attended Mt Holyoke. Shakespeare with her was challenging and magnificent!!
Karen Weston
November 14, 2012
"Miss Kaufman" was one of the best teachers I ever had and in my 48 year career in schools I have always carried her in my head and heart as my model.
Liza Lee
November 14, 2012
Such a sharp mind and warm heart! She intimidated the heck out of me, mostly because I so admired her.
Lisa A
November 14, 2012
She not only was a great English teacher, she gave us, me in particular, a confidence in my writing that has helped me throughout my professional life. For that I am eternally grateful.
Margaret Saunders
November 12, 2012
I have such a profound sense of loss. Marjorie so influenced my life as it was my comfort level with her that brought me to Mount Holyoke, and the whole new life that came to be mine. I am so grateful that our paths crossed in this life.
Marilyn Lafreniere
November 11, 2012
Marjorie was a remarkable woman and it was a great privilege to have known her.
Linda Craib
November 11, 2012
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. . .

- Penelope Laurans Fitzgerald
Penelope Laurans Fitzgerald
November 8, 2012
The Mount Holyoke College class of 1962 who was privileged to have Marjorie as an honorary member and who celebrated her 90th birthday with her at their 50th reunion in May remembers her with affection and the greatest respect for her scholarship and love of teaching and learning, Beatrice Szekely, class of 1962 President
November 8, 2012
The Frances Perkins Scholars community will mourn the loss of Marjorie and her endless enthusiasm for life-long learning, and the lessons that can be learned at every stage of life.

Penni Martorell
FP alumnae class scribe
Penni Martorell
November 8, 2012
Marjorie was a remarkable lady. She will be sorely missed.
Helen Ratner
November 7, 2012
I first met Marjorie at a club event at which she introduced us to the FP program. Later, while living in South Hadley with my husband, Irving Eisley, I got to know her better over dinners at our house and in the Loomis community. She was always the life--and certainly the voice--of the party. We have lost a very dear, bright, funny and generous lady.
Bev Wise '76
November 7, 2012
As a new MHC student in the mid-1950's, I was impressed and inspired by Marjorie's progressive politics; they informed everything she did in the classroom and out! In later years I was lucky to know as a friend as well as admired professor. Her wit and wisdom will linger with me, her determined spirit provide a model for courageous aging.
Sara Dalmas Jonsberg
November 6, 2012
Marjorie was a force to be reckoned with! So generous of her time, talent and spirit. I came to know her through the youth orchestra where she always donated her time to our many events. She had a twinkle in her eye and a zest for life. She will be missed!
Hillarie O'Toole
November 5, 2012
I already loved to read when I got to MHC at the age of 17, but I LEARNED to read from Jean Sudrann and Marjorie Kaufman. I was an English major and advisee of Miss Sudrann's and became a friend (and admirer) of both Jean and Margery. From those two fabulous women I also learned how to care for a garden, the art of entertaining, and how to make a proper gin martini (after I reached drinking age!). I will savor our conversations about travel and books for the rest of my life.
LIsa M. Otero
November 5, 2012
David and I always enjoyed running into Marjorie at MHC events, including the recent musical event on John Cage, as well as around town. She was a delightful, amazing, erudite woman who was already with some witty words and a willing smile. We will definitely miss her along with the other amazing MHC faculty who have gone on before her. We are sure she will be warmly welcomed in her new arena and if there isn't a book group there already, it won't take her long to start one! It was indeed an honor to know Marjorie.

I never had her as a teacher but I wish that I had! Cindy White Morrell '68
Cindy & David Morrell
November 4, 2012
She was one of my mother's closest friends at Loomis Village and then became a friend of the entire family. Talking to Marjorie was always interesting and always fun. I will miss her.
Maya Hasegawa
November 3, 2012
Marjorie was my advisor for 2 years, despite the fact that I was a chemistry major. She tried to convince me to major in English, and while I resisted, I certainly developed a life-long love of, and appreciation for literature. She saved me from failing psychology and math, in my freshman years by providing counseling with enormous humor. Both my husband and I enjoyed her hospitality and generosity. I was so pleased to have sat with her at our 50th reunion in May, 2011. She looked great, yes, wore gorgeous clothes, was sharp as ever and a delight to talk with. We will all miss her very much.
Elizabeth Kaplan Thornton, '61
November 2, 2012
Perhaps the main reason that I majored in American Studies was that Ms. Kaufman was the advisor, & I wasn't sure I'd be able to secure her counsel if I majored in English where so many stars shone. All that she gave us made me a better teacher, a continual reader(must write her I'm loving Proust I thought last week), & an exuberant & critical student of literature, & life.
And where did she find those beautiful clothes?!
She was such fun, such a keen observer with a twinkle & wry words that nailed a situation or person. She' d cock her head, look at you with a merry smile that all but said, "what do you think of them apples."
Joan Latchis Amory '68
November 2, 2012
South Hadley has lost a great lady with Marjorie's passing. She was always on top of issues at Town Meeting and often asked questions others only thought of.
Marilyn Ishler
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