The City Menus wants to honor and remember people who have made a lasting impact on the prosperity and well being of the communities we serve. Our first People in Focus article highlights the giving and intuitive heart of Phillip Eugene Kauffman.
Owner and Founder of The City Menus, Jonathan Dockery had a chance to speak with a few family members and listen to many community members speak about Mr. Kauffman’s legacy during his memorial service from May. The list of accomplishments are incredible. Many of them went unnoticed until now because Mr. Kauffman never wanted to be recognized for what he did – he just wanted to be a gift to the community.
From designing furniture to envisioning entire neighborhoods, Kauffman found a way to be one of Carroll County’s most dynamic backbones in recent history.
Growing up in a Mennonite household, Kauffman’s parents had instilled in him an earnest sense of confidence, that doing and giving your best is inherently being your best. Christine Hanson, Kauffman’s only daughter, remembers her father’s mantra “Second place is the first loser.” “I know that sounds tough, but what it really meant is that when you do your best, that’s when you’re a winner,” Hanson explains.
Kauffman brought out his best in everything that he did. Initially part-owner of Royal Creations, a particle-wood furniture factory based in California, Kauffman eventually built up trust with his colleagues to expand to the east coast. Upon moving to Carrollton, he swiftly built connections around town. When he finally sold Royal Creations to buy out Henderson Carbide Diamond, his connections grew with his business.
Hanson explained that even though his business life was going well, her father realized soon after purchasing the new business that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Kauffman valued quality time over all else.
“He was one to save up for trips,” Hanson says. “Experiences were his – and our family’s – focus throughout our lives.”
Kauffman prioritized and arranged for special trips with his wife Barbara as well. They frequented several countries, Israel being their favorite.
Hanson describes the awe she experienced when her father brought his children with him to Israel:
“It was so surreal to be in the places that Jesus walked and taught and died,” she relayed. This, as well as countless other visits, impacted her in a way that words can’t express.
There’s the saying that people won’t remember what you accomplished so much as how you made them feel. But for Phillip Kauffman’s family, it’s kind of both. The thoughtfulness of his quality time and the businesses and partnerships he built in turn became the things that his children began to cherish and develop.
Kauffman’s son Jason now manages several of his father’s partnerships. One of which, Kayak Cove, a strikingly modern development in Carrollton, Georgia, Phillip Kauffman unfortunately did not see to completion. However, the structure, cohesion, and other ineffable qualities resound with Kauffman’s ability to find partners with visionary ideas like Kayak Cove’s creator and builder Brian Preston.
“He and his partners just saw land, and they made it happen!” Jason exclaimed. “That’s what happened when he and his partners built the Mirror Lake neighborhood in Villa Rica. They scouted the land and saw something beautiful that could add to the Villa Rica area.”
Jason adds that even though his father exuded impressive competency in partnering with the builders and creative visionaries for subdivisions like Mirror Lake and Kayak Cove, he also involved himself with the University of West Georgia. While heading the UWG Foundation, he and the Board helped to “clear the canvas” for Randall Redding and his Foundation to conceive and construct what is now the Greek Village.
“He wanted to build up the community, really,” Christine says emphatically. “And he never searched out accolades.”
Jason agrees. “He was really embarrassed when the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce deemed him Citizen of the Year a few decades ago. He just wanted to improve the town and he did it well.”
Thanks to Kauffman, several run-down areas in the county have been renewed or redeveloped, creating an inviting town with which anyone can fall in love.
Phillip Kauffman remained a steady force of inspiration and support in Carroll County until his passing this past May at age 76. His life, work ethic, and ingenuity continue to provide an elevated experience in the West Georgia area. A family friend shared with us that even Kauffman’s children exude this finest characteristic.
“Christine has never forgotten my birthday or my anniversary with my husband,” this friend divulges. “And she remembers my children’s birthdays as well. Her father impacted her in such a way that she thinks of others and how to celebrate them.”
Phillip Kauffman lived. For his community, for his family which consisted of his wife and help-mate, Barbara; his three sons, Jason, Scott, and Ryan; along with daughter Christine Hanson; and for the good of the people he knew and sometimes barely knew. He cultivated connections wherever he went and left a wake of life and love behind. Today the connective paths, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood streets, and strong governing boards at several local businesses and institutions still remain. Carrollton navigated some serious dry seasons in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and emerged as the flourishing city it is today, with just a little bit of help from Phillip Kauffman.
The City Menus wants to thank Christine Kauffman Hanson and Jason Kauffman for their time in sharing their father’s story so intimately with us. Photos provided by the family.