Hospitality and Real Estate Leader JIM KAUFMAN, For the Kid from Biggar, it was the Biggest Life

    VANCOUVER, June 19 /CNW/ - Jim Kaufman's career took him from the
communications cabin of a Canadian Navy destroyer escort to the controls of a
steel-mill crane - to management of one of Canada's biggest and best hotels,
The Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.
    He died in White Rock on Wednesday, June 13 at the age of 65 from
complications in the treatment of cancer - the end of a life lived to the
fullest; one of perpetual optimism, strong genuine handshakes, and winning,
captivating smiles.
    "New York is Big," says the town's crest, "but this is Biggar!" It was in
that south-western Saskatchewan community that Jim Kaufman was born, from
where he left to grow up in Castlegar, BC to begin a new life filled with
almost unbelievable career variety. And with each move, there was a readiness
to accept bigger responsibility, mastery of new challenges, more opportunities
to succeed.
    Late in his career, as general manager of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall
Centre Hotel, Jim was host to, and met - among many other world figures - the
Dali Lama and Nelson Mandela. Of the Dali Lama, he said: "An extraordinary
person who exudes gentleness, wisdom and peace... I feel blessed to have met
him." Of Mandela: "He went quietly about things and changed his world."
    Those who knew him might have said similar things about Jim Kaufman. His
unassuming example, his warmth, and his constant pursuit of excellence made
old friends stay close, and made new acquaintances want to know him better.
    Why he sought such diversification in the way he moved through life, Jim
Kaufman never said, or maybe did not ever stop to think about. He simply
seized the moment and went for it.
    Sending clear messages came early in Jim's career when he left Castlegar
as a teenager to join the Canadian Navy as a communications officer. From
morse code to semaphore, his messages went out from the newly-commissioned
HMCS Columbia in exercises throughout the Atlantic, and as far away as
    But those years in the navy were just the beginning of career exploring
for Jim. He managed the heavy-lift crane for Dofasco in Hamilton; worked in a
pulp mill in Prince George; slung beer in a pub during the Calgary Stampede,
and later in the more sophisticated bar at Vancouver's Ritz Hotel. In a natty,
bronze-coloured vest, he was a favourite of the downtown crowd.
    But his big lesson in all of this was that his own entrepreneurial-sales
bent was always more rewarding than anything else he was doing. Hard work and
belief in a product was what got him ahead.
    Working at the pulp mill in Prince George, he sold Fuller Brushes
door-to-door at the end of his shift, and ended up making more in brush sales
than he did working at the mill.
    Jim's real estate career was spectacular, a mix of residential sales and
high-level management. As part of the entrepreneurial Wall Financial team that
was on the leading edge of the Fraser Valley building boom, he seized the
new-homes day in the Langley and Abbotsford markets. For more than a decade he
was a member of the Medallion Club, earned for real estate sales achievement,
on both the Vancouver and Fraser Valley Real Estate Boards, an achievement
that many Lower Mainland realtors remember well. He earned the President's
Award for sales achievement in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley for two
successive years - the top award that MLS offers.
    He developed and managed apartments, single-family residence
subdivisions, and major townhouse projects in the Fraser Valley. His
achievements made him "King of the Valley," a title that stuck for years.
    In due course, through developer Wall Financial, Jim came on board to
head up the building and eventually the operation of the Sheraton Vancouver
Wall Centre Hotel, as General Manager.
    It put him in the middle of Vancouver's hospitality industry, close to an
array of international luminaries that during his tenure were the hotel's
guests. In a late-life interview, he said: "I counted my time at the hotel as
another milestone in a life experience. It taught me much, but we all move on,
invariably to the things we want most, where there's satisfaction in things
familiar, in a lifestyle of chosen comfort."
    It was at that time that he was moving on to new real estate challenges
close to his Morgan Creek home in South Surrey.
    Jim's wife Merele has said that his love of sales, and the people he
served, was very real. "He could point to homes that years ago he helped to
buy and sell and remember minute details about the people and circumstances
involved," she said.
    Merele always made things fit into Jim's busy real estate life. "I can't
tell you how many times I excused him from a Friday night dinner because there
was a home owner with a challenge," she said. "And I've been with him every
step of the way."
    Jim Kaufman chose a life of challenge and diversity. He was the kind of
man, who given the chance to have done it all again... would probably have
done it all again. With confidence... with generosity... with humility... and
always with that smile.

For further information:

For further information: PRESS CONTACT IS: JAMES COLISTRO: (604)

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