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Edwin Kaufman, lawyer and skier, dies at 93

Edwin Kaufman worked as a litigator and trial

Edwin Kaufman worked as a litigator and trial attorney as a partner at Kalman, Kaufman and Rosenblatt before his retirement at age 75. Credit: Linda Simmons

Edwin Kaufman came home one day, five sets of skis in tow, and declared to his wife and children they were now "a skiing family." It wasn't much later he packed everyone into the car, drove out to Bald Hill in Farmingville where, his daughter Linda LaPolla recalled this week: "We put the equipment on, pointed the skis downhill and off we went."

Over the ensuing decade or longer, Kaufman, his wife, Paula, and their children — George, Linda and David — would take ski vacations to upstate Whiteface, Stowe in Vermont, and even to Beauprec, Quebec, outside of Montreal, where they all skied Mont Sainte-Anne.

"We were always on some kind of ski vacation somewhere," LaPolla, of Huntington, said. "But it wasn't just that. We were always doing something. … We all got along well together."

Kaufman died June 1 at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 93.

Born in Manhattan, Kaufman graduated DeWitt Clinton High School, where he was a member of the swim team, then lived much of his life in Bellmore.

He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in World War II, serving late in the war as administrator based in Okinawa. His daughter said he was recalled to the service during the Korean War, serving as an administrator at a variety of stateside naval bases.

A graduate of City College and then New York University Law School, Kaufman worked as a litigator and trial attorney as a partner in the TriBeCa-based law firm Kalman, Kaufman and Rosenblatt before his retirement at age 75, his daughter said.

He met Paula Epstein while working as a lifeguard in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The two married in 1946, raising a family first in Glen Oaks, Queens, and then in Bellmore.

"In my family, the way I was brought up, there really were no gender roles," LaPolla said. "We were taught that whatever you need to get done, you do it. … It didn't matter if you were the daughter taking out the garbage or the sons doing the wash."

In fact, LaPolla recalled, it was her father who taught her how to use a sewing machine. "We were more progressive," she said. "I thought everyone grew up like that. It wasn't until later I realized that wasn't the case."

While Edwin Kaufman worked as an attorney, Paula Kaufman ran a dance studio in Bellmore. She taught her husband how to ballroom dance and later the couple taught ballroom dancing to eager students in the Bellmore-Merrick adult education program, his daughter said.

They also traveled, extensively. Vacations included trips all over Europe, where Edwin and Paula skied in France, Italy and Switzerland, as well as travel to Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Their sons, David and George formed a punk band in the 1970s. The Nails played regular gigs at CBGB and Max's Kansas City, and recorded four albums that included a semi-cult single titled "88 Lines About 44 Women" — the music, with modified lyrics, was later used in a 1990s Mazda commercial. George was the bassist. David, who played keyboards, later went into IT and now lives in South Orange, New Jersey. He called his father "a devoted family man" and said he too "loved the times we traveled together on our skiing vacations growing up."

George Kaufman and his mother, Paula, predeceased Edwin Kaufman.

LaPolla noted that her parents always had an "open door" policy and their home welcomed all their friends. At one point, she said, the members of her brothers' band all lived at her house. "It was just how it was," she said.

LaPolla said her parents, most notably her father, stressed to her and her brothers that they could be whatever they wanted to be. She said it sparked her to earn her law degree at Hofstra University. She now has a practice in Deer Park.

Following his retirement, Kaufman moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, about a dozen years ago, LaPolla said. Later, he moved to Fort Lauderdale.

In addition to traveling, LaPolla said her father loved to take travel photos, which he developed and printed in a darkroom he built in his house. He had a room with a wall featuring many of his favorite travel photos, she said.

"We used to laugh because the colors would always be kind of off," she recalled. "In fact, he'd make one of us hold a color chart so he could match the colors, which he never quite did. We'd always joke who was going to get stuck holding the chart this time."

In addition to his son and daughter, Kaufman  is survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Gutterman's Funeral Home in Rockville Centre.


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