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Obituaries for the week of April 15, 2022

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Donald Harold Kahn

Feb. 5, 1935–March 26, 2022

Donald Harold Kahn
Donald Harold Kahn

Donald Harold Kahn died peacefully on March 26, 2022. He was the eldest son of Anita and Zel Kahn. Don was a loving and beloved son, husband, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. He also was a successful businessman, admired and respected by all who knew him. He was generous in every way, deeply philanthropic and he particularly loved Jewish causes.

Don grew up in the Sunset District of San Francisco. He went to public school and graduated from Lowell High School, where he was a proud all-city guard on the football team. At Lowell, he met his love and best friend, Roz (Schwartz) Kahn. Following Lowell, they both went to UC Berkeley, where Don was a proud member of the ZBT fraternity where he made lifelong friends.

Don and Roz married in 1954 at the Palace Hotel and he joined his father in the salvage business, where they worked together for more than 27 years. He was joined in the business by his brother Scott Kahn and ultimately, to his delight, his son Daniel Kahn.

Don loved spending time at the Concordia Club with a wide circle of friends. He loved San Francisco sports and was a Giants season ticket holder for many years. He loved trips to Kona Village and Silverado with his family. And he loved traveling the world with friends, including Morrie and Ellie Green, Howie and Jeanie Cohn, Bobby and Don Kamler, and Irv and Varda Rabin.

Above all else, what Don loved the most was his treasured wife who was the center of his world. He lived to make her happy and support her, whether it was when she returned to school to earn a master’s degree, when she ran with an Olympic torch on its way to Los Angeles in 1984, or when she became a lifetime master at bridge. Whatever made her happy, Don was all in.

Nothing made Don prouder than his amazing and loving family who all knew him as Pop. His respected son, Dr. James Kahn (daughter-in-law, Karen); his devoted daughter Robin Mayer (son-in-law, Bob); and his cherished youngest son Daniel Kahn (daughter-in-law, Sheri Lempert). He is a beloved grandfather to Benjamin (Stacy) Mayer, Amy (Tom) Kelly, Danielle (Ben) Cohen, Annie Obermeyer, Sophia and Samuel Klein, and Zoe and Hannah Kahn. And he was an over-the-moon great-grandfather to Oliver, Asher, Peri, Livana, Nev, Micah and Gavin. And his heart expanded to a wide circle of important nephews and nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews.

The family would like to thank his incredible caregivers, Telesia (Sia) Niu and Longovuka (Vuka) Tau. Their kindness and compassion sustained Don and enabled him to live happily at home.

Don was laid to rest at Hills of Eternity, Colma, CA. Charitable contributions can be made to Hebrew Free Loan.

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Sharon Robin Kaufman

Sharon Robin Kaufman
Sharon Robin Kaufman

Sharon Robin Kaufman, 73, died peacefully in her home in San Anselmo, CA on April 2, 2022.  Sharon was born at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco in 1948 to Dr. Bernard Kaufman, a person of note in the San Francisco medical and Jewish communities, and Shirley Kaufman, a world-renowned poet.

After graduating from Lowell in 1966, Sharon received her undergraduate degree in anthropology from UC Berkeley, followed by a master’s degree from the University of London. Sharon would become one of the first Ph.D. candidates from a joint UCSF-UC Berkeley program in the burgeoning field of medical anthropology. Her dissertation became her debut book, “The Ageless Self” (1986), which, after being reviewed positively on the front page of the Sunday edition of the New York Times Book Review, launched her distinguished career.

Sharon was a brilliant writer of medical narrative following in the style of Oliver Sacks, authoring three more books: “The Healer’s Tale” (1993), “And a Time to Die” (2005) and “Ordinary Medicine” (2015), and countless published articles tackling such subjects as the changing culture of U.S. medicine, aging and end-of-life, and the medical-industrial complex.

Sharon was a Professor Emerita of medical anthropology at UCSF and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine. She served on the Ethics Committee of UCSF Medical School. As part of her work, Dr. Kaufman (her professional title, which she insisted nobody use) flew to major cities on five continents to give standing-room-only lectures in some of the world’s largest university auditoriums. She mentored hundreds of students and influenced thousands of practitioners in the medical profession, and became widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in her field.

Sharon’s vocational achievements were eclipsed only by her family life. In 1972, she married Seth Kaufman (no relation), a commercial real estate broker with Midwestern charm, who wooed her by writing her a letter every day while she was studying in England. She didn’t reply every day, but in an apocryphal anecdote, she penned Seth the line “I love you more than chocolate itself.”

Her daughter Sarah was born in 1978, and her son Jacob followed in 1981. While the family would make trips together to New York, Israel, France and Italy, Sharon’s most treasured vacation memories were forged just a couple of hours north up the coast at Sea Ranch, where the family spent 40 years’ worth of Thanksgiving and summer breaks counting starfish and collecting seashells. She loved nature; on any given weekend she could be found on the myriad hiking trails in Marin County. A perfect day for Sharon was walking around Lagunitas Lake or summiting Mt. Tam, accompanied by a friend or four with whom she would discuss life’s most fascinating mysteries, with a bar of dark chocolate in her hip pocket.

She died as she had lived: with dignity, class and surrounded by loving family.

In addition to Seth, Sarah (husband Avrami) and Jacob (wife Marlese), Sharon is survived by her sisters Rabia van Hattum and Deborah Kaufman, her grandsons Benjamin (age 13) and Lev (age 1), and a bevy of nieces, nephews, first cousins, second cousins, third cousins and chosen family members, all of whom she deeply adored.

The family held a private graveside service. If you would like to honor Sharon, please consider remembering her by donating to the Gay Becker and Sharon Kaufman Memorial Fund, UCSF Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Campus Box 0850, 490 Illinois St., Floor 7, San Francisco, CA 94143.

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