Chris Kaufman was born October 29, 1954 in Denver, Colorado. From there, the family moved to Kansas City while his Father attended Medical School at the University of Kansas and then onto Winfield, Kansas where Chris was raised. He graduated from Winfield High School in 1972 and from the University of Kansas in 1976. Chris married Jane Liermann Kaufman in 1977. Together they had three children, John, Caroline, and Alexandria. Chris and Jane resided in Winfield where he owned Kaufman Sporting Goods with his brother David. After the brothers sold the store, Chris worked as a corrections counselor for the Winfield Correctional Facility for 30 years. Chris spent all his free time with his wife and children. John followed right behind his every step. They would hunt and fish together, referee games together, and they would work endlessly at our family ranch together. The girls, Caroline and Alex, had an obligation to be tom boys, as they too, followed right along with hunting and fishing, camping, hiking, all the things Chris had a passion for. He and Jane loved their dogs and walking at the ranch together. Chris and Jane spent countless weekends traveling with the kids to Lawrence for KU sporting events and traveling to the mountains for their annual summer vacations.
Chris was an accomplished football, basketball, and baseball official for 40 years. In 2002 he was named the league commissioner for the South Central Border League and he served as the area supervisor for the State of Kansas in football, basketball, and baseball for many years. In his 40 years of officiating he worked 23 state championship games in football, 24 state championship games in basketball, and 32 state championship games in baseball. In 1996 he was recognized by the NFIOA as football official of the year. In 2005 he received the Jerry May award from the GWOA. 2006 brought the NFHS active national official of the year award. In 2007 he was awarded the Phil and John Laurie official of the year by the Sunflower chapter of the National Football Foundation and in 2012 he was named the NFHS baseball official of the year. In 2016 he was inducted into the GWOA hall of fame.
In February 2016, he was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme, a rare, inoperable brain tumor. He lost his fight on March 20, 2016. He will be remembered for many things including his passion for life and the love for his family, but especially for his dedication to the student athletes and to the officiating community. Chris had a presence on and off the court that permeated his positive attitude through the fans, the coaches, and the players. Chris refereed every game, no matter what level it was, with all his heart. It was certainly important to Chris to display a level of professional and sportsman like conduct to each individual he encountered during the event. Chris encouraged athletes, mentored coaches, and lent a hand to any school administrator that needed one.
In the late 1970’s Chris’s parents bought their family ranch 15 miles East of Winfield. Chris spent many days and nights at the ranch hunting, fishing, doing chores with his brothers, and enjoying all the family time he could possibly could. Family was everything to Chris. Chris often reminded Jane, John, Caroline, and Alex to live every day to fullest, smile big, and be productive. Life is great he would say, even up until his last day. Chris never showed fear during his battle with brain cancer. Chris never pitied his situation or made others feel sorry for him. He was exceedingly appreciative for everyone’s love and dedication to him during the last phase of his illness.
Chris had a motto he lived by, family over everything.
He will be deeply, deeply missed, but his legacy will never be forgotten.
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