On February 24, 2022, Anita Kaufman, devoted mother, loving wife, doting grandmother, stalwart friend and force of nature, passed away following complications from liver cancer. She died peacefully at home, and in the presence of family. She was 86.
After completing her undergraduate degree at Vassar, she traveled the world independently and began a successful career as Merrill Lynch stockbroker—both considered progressive endeavors for a woman at the time. Anita didn’t care much for convention.
A few years later, Anita was reintroduced to Jay Kaufman—they had lived in the same apartment building years earlier—and they married in 1962. They shared a love of travel, the arts, recreation and entertainment, passions that continued even after they welcomed their three children, Nina, Laurance and John. Anita knew compromise but was not one for sacrifice, so her children soon joined their expeditions to far-away lands and extraordinary restaurants, because that’s where the best desserts were.
Anita put her career on hold to raise her kids, showering them with affection, doling out bon mots like bon bons, and imprinting upon them the etiquette essentials, such as putting your napkin on your lap and holding your fork the right way.
In her mid-40’s, Anita reinvigorated her career, getting her MBA from New York University in 1978. She taught macroeconomics at Mercy College in White Plains, and then joined MCI/Worldcom where she quickly advanced to become a company leader in the development of international standards. In her nearly 20 years there, she served as a consultant and liaison to the U.S. State Department and Federal Communications Commission, establishing telecommunications protocols and products that last to this day. Her presence, often as the only woman in the international delegation, was an inspiration to countless others who would follow in her highly esteemed footsteps.
Volumes could be written about her love for, and Charlemagne-like acquisition of, chocolate. It was the fourth child she never had: sweet, always present and never giving her trouble.
While Scarsdale remained her home for more than 50 years, Anita and Jay continued to seek out adventure well past retirement. Their travels included Egypt, South Africa, China, India, Russia, and finally—and fatefully—Portugal in 2014, where Jay suffered a serious stroke, which began a new chapter in Anita’s life as caretaker.
Despite this setback late in life, she never stopped her from bestowing kindness unto others, treasuring her three grandsons or enjoying the Saturday afternoon operas on WQXR radio. She was generous in spirit (and, often, wallet) and expected nothing in return, save the appearance on the donor scroll of WNET, to whom she was an adoring benefactor.
Those who knew Anita will be spending the days ahead telling fabulous stories of her, a few of them scandalous, most of them hilarious, and all of them with appreciation for the warm, wise and accomplished woman she was.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks well-wishers to consider making a donation to WNET. The family would love to see their mother one more time.