Any remembrance about Jody Lynn Kaufman has as its hallmark the excellence Jody brought to every aspect of her life. Her husband describes her as brilliant and beautiful. Her children talk about what an incredibly supportive and nurturing mother she was. Everyone who knew her would speak about her impressive ability to figure out how to build anything, design fabric art, and create beautiful gardens. We are writing this as her very close friends. Some of us have known Jody for more than 30 years, and all of us count ourselves extremely fortunate to have had her as such an important part of our lives.
Jody grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, the second child of Michael and Shirley (Danielson) Comstock. After her father left her mother with four children to raise, it was a hard time for the family. Jody started babysitting at an early age. By the time she was 16, she was working 40 hours a week or more. Even as a full-time college student, she worked 20 hours a week. Jody majored in business and was brilliant with numbers, but she was also an artist. It was in college that she met and married the love of her life, Scott Kaufman, a love that lasted more than 45 years. When they were first married, since Scott loved music and it was the 1970s, they headed to California after college, settling in Santa Barbara.
While Scott pursued his dream of a career in music, Jody, ever practical, got a job at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she became an extraordinary administrator. As executive director of Academic Affairs, Jody provided a continuity and keen insights that guided a succession of six executive vice chancellors at a period of unprecedented growth in the campus’s academic programs. In addition to managing the resources for UCSB’s largest division, she oversaw capital and long-range planning, and the division’s technical infrastructure. She was extremely collegial, mentoring and advancing staff all over campus. Professionals from all divisions came to her for advice, and she always generously provided her ideas and creative solutions.
Jody and Scott were blessed with two children, Rachel and Connor. Jody loved being a mother. As Rabbi Steve Cohen said of Jody, “For both of her children, Jody was not just mother. She was their friend and mentor. She had a brilliant gift for bringing out the best in a person and did that for so many of us, but first and foremost for her own kids, Rachel and Connor. And as she saw her own children beginning to make a real contribution in the world, nothing gave Jody more pride and joy than talking about those two, and their lives, and especially seeing them both following so brilliantly in her footsteps.”
Jody welcomed son-in-law Jordan into the family with open arms and was so happy when she became a grandmother to two adorable little girls, Ella and Lyla. She was very hands-on and interacted with the girls every day, providing much appreciated support to her daughter’s burgeoning family.
After Conner’s graduation from UCSB, Jody was proud to see his success in building a technical career on the campus. She welcomed his girlfriend Melia into the family and enjoyed special outings into the wine country while the two of them got to know and appreciate each other.
Jody welcomed so many friends into her family, embracing each person with graciousness and warmth. She was an especially talented chef who took the time to develop memorable occasions for her family and friends. From Passover dinners to Fourth of July picnics to Halloween block parties, she created festive affairs with detailed decorations and always plenty of her superb cooking. Over the years, she created many photo albums for her friends, marking important milestones in their lives. We have continued her tradition with our own families.
Jody was a mainstay of the Jewish community, serving for many years on the Board of Directors for both Hillel and Temple B’nai B’rith. She was especially respected for her sage advice regarding finances and capital planning.
After retiring from UCSB, Jody volunteered as a math tutor for 3rd graders at El Camino Elementary school. She was dedicated to reaching each child — finding out how each one learned and then tailoring her teaching to fit. She gained great satisfaction every time she saw a child grasp a new concept and move ahead. The children loved her and would call out for “Mrs. K!” whenever they needed help.
Jody was an extraordinarily talented, creative, supportive, and loving person. We will remember her smile, her wit, her laugh, and, most of all, her generosity. We have lost an amazing woman much too soon, but she will always hold a place in our hearts and we will never ever forget her.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to El Camino School PTA, 5020 San Simeon Drive, Santa Barbara 93111, in care of Jody’s Fund.