Joshua Jay Kaufman passed away on December 15, 2023, after his strong spirit succumbed to recent illnesses. He was surrounded by his loving family. Even in his last moments he found energy to tap a toe to Engelbert Humperdinck's version of "Love is a Many Splendid Thing" -- the song of his wedding dance with his wife, Elaine, the love of his life for more than 60 years.
Jay, a New Yorker through and through, spoke with an 89th Street and Broadway accent, could not help but joke or "Josh" with everybody around him, loved to call his 95-year-old "baby" sister Zelda when his hometown Yankees beat her Red Sox, and walked at a pace that kept his kids running to keep up. He was the king of "dad jokes." Nobody was a stranger; everybody was a friend who could and did rely on his kindness, gentle nature, and non-judgment. He was everything to all of us, and he died with the ultimate satisfaction of living the life he wanted to live.
Jay was a winner all his life, starting when he was awarded first prize in a baby beauty contest. He was the youngest of three kids (with sisters Jean and Zelda), born July 23, 1933, to Irving and Stella. Jay grew up walking across the George Washington Bridge on weekends when his traveling salesman father was home. His mother made the best chopped liver on the Upper West Side. And he enjoyed baseball and pickup football in the parks. He went to the Bronx High School of Science, where he won an accounting award, foreshadowing his future career. He attended Wilkes College in Pennsylvania, his sole stint living outside of NY, and then earned his Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in Tax from New York University. He served as a communications expert stateside in the U.S. Army Reserve, drafting and transcribing Morse code during what he called "the Battle of Fort Dix."
Jay and Elaine celebrated their 60th anniversary in November. He proposed to her one week after they met on a blind date. Theirs was a romance for the ages. They laughed together, traveled, played tennis and bowled, raised two happy kids, and loved their roles as "Grampoppa" and "GramE." Jay enjoyed spending his golden years with Elaine and his friends at The Knolls in Valhalla.
A milestone year for Jay, in 2023 he also celebrated his 90th birthday at a big party and he traveled to South Carolina to participate in the ceremony for his son's promotion to Colonel in the Air Force.
Jay was the quintessential family man. Elaine, their daughter Randi-Lynn, son Steve, daughter-in-law Jeannie, and grandchildren Sean and Maya were his entire world. As a young father, he was always home from work by 6pm to have dinner with the family and then play gin and other games or watch TV together. His kids have fond memories of traveling into NYC to his office in the morning and then sight-seeing all afternoon. Jay was dependably present and cheering for all moments, big and small, from dance recitals to ball games. He was also close with his sister Zelda's family, her late husband Nathan, and her children Karen, Diane, and Alan and their families; and his family by marriage, Alan and Lois Gorelick and their children Jill and Bobby.
An old school family lawyer, Jay practiced his entire 65-year career in Wills and Estates. As one client put it, "Where there is a Will, there is a Jay." He traveled all around the tri-state area making house calls to his clients, who were usually the entire family and their businesses, and, of course, they frequently became his close personal friends. Among his clients were several famous names, but in Jay's book they were all equally important.
Jay also cared about people and the world around him, supporting local and national charities that focused on his social and political concerns. The family will schedule a celebration of Jay's wonderful life. In lieu of flowers, well-wishers may support Cancer Support Community at Gilda's Club, the USO, or the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
In true Jay fashion, he had a "Whoops File" with next steps for after his death. It included a letter, which ended, "From here on, it is up to you. I have confidence." And then he had a post-script that apologized for not hanging around long enough to wear out his iconic red recliner.