Saul Kaufman, 1927-2011

After battling with long-term illness, we are mourning the passing of our company's very beloved patriarch, Saul Kaufman. On the morning of Sunday, November 6, 2011, Saul peacefully passed away at the age of 84.

The eldest of three sons to Robert Kaufman, he joined the company in 1955 along with brother Alvin. Together, Saul and Alvin created a fabric named "Windjammer" and began to move the company away from Jobber to Fabric Converter. Saul proudly led the company from 1955 until his retirement in 2008.

Throughout those 53 years, he left a lasting impression on each and every employee that was lucky enough to work beside him. He was a strong character, but a thoughtful, loving man who was approachable and gave great advice. Carlos Lucero, Int'l Account Manager and longtime employee said, "Saul leaves behind a legacy of character, leadership and friend…He will be missed." Perhaps the greatest aspect of Saul's legacy would be the welcoming family environment that he created throughout the company, from the front office to the warehouse, always reminding people, "You should love your job, what you do should make you happy." He may have expected a lot, but ultimately he had such a soft side to him. Saul truly was a family man, always interested in his employees' well-being. He would reach into his own pocket if someone needed help, and did so many times over the years. The fondest memories are of his kind-hearted nature and comforting personality. Those closest to him describe him as a father figure, and for many he filled that role better than anyone could have asked for.

Saul with all his children & grandchildren, Summer 2011

When asked  what Saul meant to them, his Robert Kaufman work family had this to share:

I have been working at Robert Kaufman since 1992. Saul Kaufman has been like a guardian Angel to me and to many employees that worked with him. He was a strong father figure, with character that motivated us to do right. We were encouraged to work hard with a smile. I owe a lot to him because thanks to him I was able to raise my family. ~Norma, Sample Production Manager

I came to work at Robert Kaufman in 1980. After one month I approached Saul informing him that I was unable to work anymore because I did not have childcare for my son. He allowed me to bring my son to work from 11:00am-4: 30pm for 3 years. For me, he has been a blessing and father figure. Any problems I had, I would go to him and he would help me out in every way. He always had the solution to any problems. Saul would ask us to be happy and never take work problems home. I am eternally grateful and know that he is in a better place. I know that it is very hard for his loved ones, but I pray to God to give them strength to overcome these tough times. God Bless You. ~Maryluz F., Sample Cutter

When I first started, I was so scared of Saul but he was so amazing. He was a sweet man, a family man, very loving, and definitely one-of-a-kind. He was a real teddy bear and I'll never forget him. ~Gloria S., Sample Production

In memory of the best boss, he was always be in my heart and his memory will live forever. ~Teodoro, Receiving

Saul was a sweet man who always spoke to everyone. One thing I loved from him was his hugs & kisses. ~Kim, Receptionist

Saul was indeed a very strong, special person. It is his spirit that reflects in the "specialness" of our company. ~Emmie, Creative Director of Marketing

I met Saul 16 years ago when I started working here. I was substituting for the janitor at the time. The first time I met him, he said, "Who are you? and i replied, "I'm here to clean your office." He told me, "Welcome to the company! This company is a family company." Since then, he did not just see me as an employee, but as a part of the family. As time passed, He noticed that I stopped dying my hair and would say, "Look, we're matching!" because now we both had gray hair. He would never forget anyone's face and to my surprise, even after so many years he still remembered who I was. He never had favoritism, whether you were a warehouse employee, office employee, or family. Everyone was equal to him. He would always say, he wanted this company to be united like the family he considered us all to be. My deep condolences go to his wife and kids. It was a pleasure working with him for the company. ~Esther, Order Puller

Saul always had an open door and you could talk to him at any time. He was always very good to me over the 21 years I've been with Robert Kaufman and was a good friend to the very end. ~Bobbi, Account Specialist

Saul was a great boss. I worked with him for 24 years. He was the best boss I've ever had. I will miss him dearly. ~Polo, Receiving

For me, Saul was a very motivated person. He always made me happy even if my day was not the greatest. He was and will always be a special person to me. ~Love, Juan Medina, Order Puller/Supervisor

Saul was a very sweet, wonderful, giving man who will be deeply missed. ~Tracie, Customer Service

Saul was a nice and adorable person. What I've missed most about Saul was seeing him in his office and saying, "Hi!" and getting my morning hug and kiss. He was a man who was adored by everyone at Robert Kaufman. He will truly be missed. ~Josie, Account Specialist

To me, Saul was a sweet person. The few times I got the opportunity to know him, he inspired me with tenderness and love. He always wanted everyone to be united no matter what position they held in the company. He will always remain in my heart. ~Isabel Haro, Order Puller

Saul was a great man and like a father figure to all. Even when I lost my own father, he stood in as a surrogate father for me. ~Nancy, Credits & Returns

Saul Kaufman was not only a very wise, strong, influential inspiration to many; he was also a person who demonstrated just how easy it is to put a smile on your face. He had many talents that led him to his success in life however; the greatest of these talents was his gift of giving straight from the heart. We will miss you and forever keep you in our hearts. ~Christine G., on behalf of the Accounting/Billing Department

Saul, May God receive you in heaven, You were a wonderful person and boss. God Bless your family too. ~Martin C., Order Packer

My deepest condolences to the Kaufman family. That peace and tranquility endure through the Kaufman family. ~Jose Jaramillo, Order Puller

My deepest condolences to the Kaufman family. We suffered a big loss. Saul is a person to whom we are grateful for all the help and comfort he offered to all of us here at Robert Kaufman. ~Abraham Bruno, Order Packer

To the Kaufman family, my deepest condolences. I know what you are going through is very hard, but I think that he is now in the hands of God and God will help heal from this loss. ~Patricia Soto, Order Puller

When Saul's booming voice would call me in, it would feel like a mile to walk from my desk to his office, not knowing what to expect. But every time, without fail, I'd get there, looking a little afraid, and he'd start with "oh, honey...." and my fear would melt away. He made us all feel special, each and every individual who worked for him. He had no regard for managerial hierarchy when it came to who mattered. To him, everyone mattered, everyone was important, and he made sure we all knew it.  ~ Debra, Customer Service

We lost another industry icon. One who built an absolutely fabulous company to work for, where they treat everyone like family, and have confidence in you and the job you do. I'm so grateful to be working here and reaping the enormous benefits of his great legacy. ~Sandie, Customer Service Manager

When I'd pass his office, he'd stop me, and ask me my name, so I made it my mission to help him remember. After a while of playing that game every time I'd pass by, he'd call me Angie, so proud he got it right, and finally said "See? I told you I'd remember your name!" He cared who each and every person was who worked for him. He was a beautiful, beautiful man. ~Angie, International Accounts

I worked with him daily for a couple years, and to me, he was a great man who knew what he wanted, and showed me, with his actions, how to go after the right things and make the right choices. Once, my 11-year-old son came into work with me, and Saul made it a point to come up and talk directly to him. He said, "You know your dad does a great job here." To have such a great man acknowledge the work I do and pay me that respect in front of my own son... I was honored to have worked with him. ~Roy C., Inventory Control

He was the BEST boss, the BEST friend, and he would always listen to you. He always came up to me and pinched my cheek lightly, and would say "Hi dear." He made me feel so special. ~Gloria H., Receiving/Inventory

One time, he even jokingly dressed the toilet seat for me with paper towels and a liner! He made a big gesture about it, then showed me into the stall like he was welcoming royalty. It made me laugh so hard, even to this day, when I think about it, but it also shows what kind of boss he was, how humble and approachable he was, and just wanted to make you smile. ~Tito, Receiving

No matter what was going on in the warehouse, Saul made a habit of getting on the intercom and booming sternly, "OK guys, enough! Get back to work!" It would make everyone jump a little, chuckle or smile, and work a little harder! ~Omar, Warehouse Manager, Shipping

When I interviewed for the job, I was in a room with Saul's brothers Harvey and Alvin, with "The Godfather" Saul sitting in the middle. After we talked about the company and a little about the position, without even a real offer, Saul looked right at me and asked, "So what do you think? Are you in, or not?" I was a little surprised and said, "OK, so that's the job offer? Well, yeah, I guess I am." Satisfied, Saul declared, "Great! Let's go to lunch!" Saul's common-sense wisdom and straight-forward demeanor meant that you always knew where you stood with him. He not only commanded respect, he truly earned it. He was sincere and honest, and I always admired him for that. ~Frank, VP Sales

My deepest condolences for Joe, Ken, Robin and the rest of the Kaufman family. I pray for their strength to continue to help the company grow in the way Saul always strived for. ~Alex Hernandez, Order Packer

I have so many wonderful memories of Saul, my teddy bear. I worked with Saul for 2 years and every time I would walk into his office he would welcome me with a big hug and a smile. He would always tell me, "Sarah, I love the way you walk into my office with a big smile on your face," but it was him that gave me that smile and it makes me happy to have these memories. I will always remember him as a happy person and someone I could always talk to as a friend. ~Sarah, Marketing Assistant

My sincerest condolences and I want to remember when he would pass by, he would always tap my shoulder with his lovely smile and the toothpick in his mouth that he always had. I will always have him in my heart, always for the rest of my life. I appreciate him for being the best boss over the last 22 years. Best regards, ~Martin Gil Sanchez, D/R Cutter

I don't remember exactly how old I was the first time I met Saul, but I do remember the first time I worked for him. I was five years old when my dad brought me and my brothers to work. It wasn't a real job, but Saul gave me five dollars for picking up trash in the parking lot - when five dollars was a lot, especially to a five year old! One day he came out to the lot and told me I forgot a chip bag, and when I went to pick it up, I saw a five dollar bill inside. I remember being so happy about that that from then on I was always excited to hear Saul's name. I officially started with the company in 1985, the day after I graduated high school. I know I will miss his presence at the company. As Saul was always a household name for me growing up, when I got the job, I felt like I was at home. I am truly happy and appreciative to have a job for 27 years, in a great company, which he was president of all those years. I know he had been doing something good to make the company what it is today. I will miss him dearly, and I know all of us will. ~Roy G., Shipping

I do not have words to express my gratitude for everything that Saul has done for me. I owe him thanks for the job opportunity that has allowed me to support my family. I know that your children care for all the employees as much as you have cared for us throughout the years. May your family receive many blessings and that you, Saul Kaufman, may rest in peace. ~Guadalupe Monroy, Custodial Services

To the Kaufman family, I am very sorry for your loss. Saul is a person who I feel should have had more time with those who loved him. I am very grateful for all the time I've been able to work for the Kaufman family. To me, he was loving, sincere, and caring. For me, he is not gone, He will always be in my heart and mind. My deepest condolences to the Kaufman family. ~Francisco Damazo, D/R Cutter

My deepest condolences to the Kaufman family. I share with you in your pain during these tough times. ~G. Bromfield

To me, Saul was the "Godfather" of Robert Kaufman.  He had a tough and gruff demeanor, and could definitely be stern when necessary, but really was a big teddy bear.  When I'd see him in passing, he always had a smile on his face and would ask how I was doing.  Saul was definitely one of a kind and will be dearly, dearly missed. ~Reva, Credit Manager

Saul always walked through the front door with a smile and a bear hug to give to everyone. He wasn’t someone I just worked for he was my boss who did take the time to say hello and ask how my family was doing.  He would remember what was going on in my life and ask for updates. He would buy Girl Scout cookies from my daughter to make sure she met her goal. He would light up when I asked him about his grandkids. He would see me walking down the hall and call me into his office to pinch my checks and say “I just wanted to see you smile, now get back to work”. Saul was kind, sincere, compassionate, down to earth, funny, and the list can go on and on. He was one of a kind. He will be remembered and always missed. ~With lots of love, Cristina Tapia, Accounting

My memories of Saul go back some 23 years. I can still see him sitting in the office smiling at the employees as we'd walk down the hall throughout the day. I can still hear him greeting everyone with a cheery "Good Morning!" day after day when he'd enter the building. And let me not mention the smell of cologne that would greet us and linger on long after he'd made his way to his office. How sweet that smell was! He was a compassionate and caring man who genuinely loved his employees. Saul, you've fought a long battle, you've finished your course; take your rest and know that we love you and will miss you. You will never be forgotten! ~Damita Ford, Accounting

I met Saul only a couple of times, but could tell right away how warm his spirit was. He always asked if I was still walking, and of course I said yes. This was my own personal example from him of how he paid attention to everyone individually. He had a way of noticing the individual. I am grateful to have met him. He cared about his business and employees, and I know I am lucky to have been chosen to work at RKC.  Thanks to Saul and his family the  business is still going despite these difficult times. Thank you Saul Kaufman, and warmest regards to all your family, ~Deborah Call, Design Director and Project Manager, Manufacturing Division

Saul to me was so kind and so funny. I will never forget that, one day, upon returning to work after my own father passed away, Saul stopped me and asked me to come into his office and said “Hey Kiddo, what’s wrong with you lately? You’re not your normal bright smiling self.” I then felt my eyes tear up and proceeded to tell him I had just lost my father; he gave me a big Papa Saul hug and I cried like a baby. Saul said “its ok hun let it out” and I will NEVER forget that. It was so heartfelt and he always made us all feel so loved. I also remember when he would do a roll call and page us into his office one by one regarding work; every time he would call Edna in we would all hiss like snakes to tell her she was in trouble, but of course she wasn’t. I started here when I was 20….I’m now 32. Since day one, Saul always made us all feel like we were family and that’s why we love it here so much. We’ll never forget him and I will never forget him. My heart goes out to the whole Kaufman Family.   ~Much Love, Karla Garcia-Siddiqui, Accounting

Many of us will remember Saul as a great guy and a solid leader. I will always remember his smiley face making me and everybody around him feel like a friend. My most memorable moment with Saul was few days after I was hired at RK. I was having lunch in the lunchroom with Joe and a couple of other coworkers. Joe was eating a few tortilla chips when Saul walked into the room and approached him from the back. Standing behind Joe, he leaned forward and down and wrapped his arms around him. Then he grabbed one of his chips and put it in his mouth, while Joe just sat still allowing Saul to do his thing. Watching from the side, I saw Saul’s proud face glowing with fatherly love and wonderful tenderness. It was a special moment because I felt privileged to witness Saul the DAD, and it was an amazing moment because it made me feel right at home! I will miss you SAUL! ~Lutfi Latif, Inventory Analyst

Since the first time I met Saul I realized I was sitting in front of a great human being, a leader with a special character and an amazing conviction. A family man. It is our time now to celebrate his life. Let’s all remember how he touched our lives and be thankful we were given the chance to have known a man named Saul Kaufman. May God give him eternal rest and peace and tranquility to all his family and friends. ~Angelo, International Sales Director

 

There are innumerous memories of Saul's leadership and friendship throughout the company. Many more are greatly affected by the loss of such a great man, that words cannot begin to describe the impact he had and the grief we all feel.

 

Saul is survived by his wife, Ilene, sons Ken, Joe, and Howie, daughter Robin, brothers Alvin and Harvey, and eight grandchildren. He is predeceased by his sister, Gladys.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, November 9 in Los Angeles. In Saul's honor, our offices will be closed temporarily for the day on Wednesday.