Like most college students, Grace Kaufman went to class and did her homework. Unlike most of her classmates, however, she had earned her first academic degree when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Ms. Kaufman, a longtime East Hampton resident, died on Dec. 25 in Marlborough, Mass. She had lived for the last 12 years at Lasell Village in Newton, Mass., a retirement community whose residents do hundreds of hours of course work each year at Lasell University, which owns the complex.
Ms. Kaufman, who was 96, was born Grace Miller on April 16, 1916, in New York City to Joseph Miller and the former Dora Diamond. During freshman orientation at Cornell in 1933, she met Theodore Kaufman. After graduating, they married and moved to New York City, where she began a career as a buyer at B. Altman, a department store. She later worked in real estate and at an advertising agency with her husband. She was awarded a master’s in business administration from Columbia University in the 1950s.
Ms. Kaufman was an active volunteer throughout her lifetime, learning Braille so that she could translate books for the visually impaired. As a resident of Rockville Centre, she worked as a lay nurse at elementary schools, screening young children for vision and hearing loss. She also became a full-time volunteer at South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside. A breast cancer survivor, she became a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society and visited women in the society’s Reach for Recovery program.
“Mom was an incredibly giving person,” said Alice Kaufman, her daughter, who lives in Concord, Mass. “She is one of those who would literally give you the jacket she was wearing if she saw you shivering at her side.”
Ms. Kaufman and her husband were world travelers, having visited every continent except Antarctica. For her 90th birthday, she walked the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with her children. She was quoted saying, “Here I am 90 years old, and I still have dreams.”
“She had a love of life and the arts, said her son, Marc Kaufman of Newton. “She was active in the Lasell Village community, made many new friends, chaired many committees, and served on the village’s board of directors.”
In 1974, the Kaufmans bought a house on Toilsome Lane in East Hampton. Her husband died in 1999, and the following year she relocated to Lasell Village.
In addition to her daughter and son, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild survive. Two other children died before her. A private service was held in Newton, and burial took place at Wildwood Cemetery in Amherst, Mass.
The family has suggested memorial donations to Life Choice Hospice, 469 Totten Pond Road, Suite 390, Waltham, Mass. 02451, or the American Cancer Society at acs.org or at N.E Division, P.O. Box 9376, Framingham, Mass. 01701.