Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today dedicated two trailhead signs honoring longtime DCNR employee and former Jonestown Mayor George H. Kaufman.
“George was truly dedicated to protecting and preserving natural spaces across the commonwealth and we are proud to honor his legacy and accomplishments today with these signs,” Dunn said. “I did not work with George while he was with DCNR, but I have heard countless stories of his dedicated work as a public servant and advocate for the outdoors and saw his tenacity in action as championed the outdoors in retirement. I am hopeful that these signs will serve as inspiration for the public and cultivate a similar passion for the outdoors in visitors to this majestic park.”
The trailhead signs honoring Kaufman are displayed on the Sand Siding Trail that connects to the Swatara Rail Trail in Swatara State Park. The signs’ text highlights Kaufman’s lifetime of public service, most notably his time within the third largest state park system in the U.S.
“We had the idyllic opportunity to live as a family on several of Pennsylvania’s state parks, where George instilled in us a love of Pennsylvania’s outdoors and the parks,” said George’s children, Michelle Kaufman, Beth Kaufman Strange, and George W. Kaufman, and his wife, Pauline Kaufman. “Throughout his life, George taught us through his example and word how fortunate we all are to be able to enjoy the natural beauty of our state. George’s love for Pennsylvania’s state parks was surpassed only by his love for his family.”
Kaufman died at age 86 on July 9, 2021. High on the list of Kaufman’s many accomplishments was his 35-year career within DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks, including 11 years as the chief of the Park Operations and Maintenance Division.
Following his retirement from DCNR, Kaufman served 16 years as the mayor of Jonestown, working tirelessly with local, county and state agencies to secure funding for the development of amenities in the park that included a playground, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and volleyball courts. That work continued after his time as mayor ended and he continued to advocate for lighting for the baseball fields, an accessible trail system throughout the park and connection to the 25-mile Lebanon Valley Rail Trail.
Jonestown Borough Council honored Kaufman’s commitment to the park by officially naming their borough park the “George H. Kaufman Jonestown Community Park.”
In retirement, Kaufman also cofounded a Bureau of State Parks retirees’ luncheon where more than 80 former employees gather several times a year. He was an active member of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society (PRPS) Governmental Affairs Committee and the Pennsylvania State Park Society Branch of PRPS. His years of service to the community were recognized with the 2012 Champion of Change Award from the White House and the 2009 PRPS Governmental Award.
The 3,520-acre Swatara State Park consists of rolling fields and woodlands situated in the Swatara Valley, between Second and Blue mountains. The scenic Swatara Creek meanders the length of the park and is surrounded by forests and wetlands that support a diversity of wildlife.