Celebrating life; first Lady Trapper turns 98
Jean Kaufman turns 98 years old, on Thursday. And she has packed a lot into her life, in Alaska.
Kaufman came to The Last Frontier in 1953, after a friend talked about a recent trip to Anchorage.
"So I got to talking to someone who said, 'I just came from Anchorage, Alaska, and you know that's a pretty nice town. It's small, but it's got mountains, and I'll probably go back there someday.' So I thought, 'Why don't I go there?' So that's what I did," Kaufman said.
She only intended to stay for a year. But 64 years later, she's still going strong, currently retired and living at the Anchorage Pioneer Home.
Kaufman, a bookkeeper by trade, volunteered at dozens of nonprofits, through the years.
"Salvation Army for 26 years, Providence Hospital [for] 26 years, Volunteers of America for 30 years and 27-thousand hours," Kaufman said. "I love volunteering."
She also made history by becoming the first 'Lady Trapper,' in the 1997 Fur Rondy.
But perhaps Jean Kaufman is best known as "Buttons the Clown," for the Lady Shriners.
Some of her friends gathered to celebrate her birthday on Wednesday, at the Anchorage Pioneer Home.
"She has affected more people in Anchorage than you can even imagine, between the schools and Providence," said Rich Owens, local businessman and former Fur Rondy 'Lord Trapper.' "So she's been an important part of this community for a long, long time."
"She did the books for 26 organizations at one time" added Helen Little, Kaufman's friend and former 'Lady Trapper'. "You'd ask Jennie to do something, and she's already there doing it."