Ray W. Kauffman, who owned and operated E.J. Codd machine shop in Southeast Baltimore, died of sarcoma complications April 28 at Gilchrist Hospice Center in Towson. The lifelong Roland Park resident was 88.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Ray Menifee Kauffman and the former Alberta Wiegand. Both his parents had hearing impairments due to childhood illnesses. Mr. Kauffman became fluent in sign language and lived in a home with both a door bell, which he could hear, and flashing light, which they could see.
Mr. Kauffman, who attended Roland Park Elementary School, remained a resident of a home his family bought about 1906 to escape the city's heat. He was active in Boy Scouting and each late November he assembled a set of Christmas lights that became well known in the neighborhood.
"He uses the same strands of egg-sized lights his grandparents used, basically, he says, because they're there," said a 1997 Sun story. "'They're sort of hand-me- downs,'" he said. " 'I never gave it much thought.'"
Mr. Kauffman put the lights up again in 2013 and was assisted by a grandson.
He attended Augusta Military Academy in Staunton, Va. In his senior year, he was a captain of its A Company, the position held by the highest-ranking cadet.
"Eight weeks before his graduation, he was drafted into the Army," said his son, George Kauffman, a Baltimore resident. "The Army made him a drill sergeant because of his high school background. He was 18 years old and he was ordering around 35 year olds who had two children."
He was later made a tank commander in the Pacific. While serving in the Philippine Islands after the war had ended, he was transferred to the Army's engineering corps and operated a bulldozer.
After his discharge, Mr. Kauffman returned to Baltimore. While working with friends one summer on a charter boat off Atlantic City, N.J., he met his future wife, Ellen May Crew.
Mr. Kauffman joined the E.J. Codd Co., a business founded in 1860 that had been owned by his family since about 1900. The heavy industrial machine shop did repair work for local steel mills and had customers spread throughout Baltimore's industrial and maritime community.
His son, George Kauffman, said the firm was in an outdated condition after World War II and his father worked to improve it. He procured new equipment and bought out other family members to become president.
"My father worked long hours at the shop," his son said. "He was never home for dinner. His employees told me he was the best boss they ever had. He gave second chances to those released from prison."
In 1962 Mr. Kauffman also founded Codd Fabricators and Boiler Co., a welding business that manufactured and repaired pressure vessels, did boiler repairs and made spiral staircases.
Mr. Kauffman and his staff made a double elliptical staircase for the American Visionary Arts Museum on Key Highway and did the exterior steel work for Towson Cancer Park near the Towsontown Center.
Among his customers were Esskay meats, Scarlett Seeds, Allied Chemical, Bethlehem Steel, Tulkoff Food Products, Domino Sugar and Whiting Turner Contracting.
When a snowstorm damaged the B&O Railroad Museum in Southwest Baltimore, he and his staff also manufactured specialized steel castings for its roof. He made parts for Three Mile Island Nuclear plant.
His business also made a superstructure to hold a canopy over Baltimore-Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport's international terminal.
In 1967 he founded Baltimore Lead Burning, which made lead-lined tanks used in the chemical industry and radiation protection building materials typically used around X-ray equipment.
Mr, Kauffman retained E.J. Codd as a family business. He worked alongside his three sons and a daughter-in-law, who all held posts in the operation at 700 S. Caroline Street. He retired fully in 2000. The building flooded during 2003 Hurricane Isabel.
Now renovated, the former World War I era machine shop is home to Pazo Restaurant.
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He was a member of the National Tooling and Machining Association, the Boumi Temple's Doric Lodge and the Pythagoras Lodge, the Eastern Shore Society of Baltimore City and the Johns Hopkins Club.
He traveled throughout Europe and Asia and visited the Great Wall of China. While traveling he made friends who would visit him at his summer home on the Ocean City boardwalk.
He had a collection of toy soldiers and electric toy trains.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 22 years Virginia Lee Trenchard; two other sons, Charles Kauffman and Steven Kauffman, both of Timonium; and seven grandchildren. His wife of 40 years, Ellen May Crew died in 1990.