Richard Linton Kauffman, 81, of Lower Makefield Township, a pioneer in the early development of information technology for mainframe computers, died Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Pennswood Village, Newtown, of complications from an earlier stroke.
Born in Yardley to Virgil and Julia Slack Kauffman, Mr. Kauffman made his home in at different times in Lower and Upper Makefield Townships.
During his childhood, Mr, Kauffman spent summers on farms and ranches in the American West. His father, a pilot who traveled the world, left his son with business associates and then picked him up in the fall. On one occasion, he enrolled in the local elementary school while he waited for his father to return.
The stuffed head of a pronghorn antelope he shot one summer was donated by his family to the Pineville Tavern in Bucks County. "It's still there," said son Scott.
Mr. Kauffman graduated from the Peddie School, where he was an all-state miler. While at Peddie, he landed a date with Mary Lou Preston.
"Despite his difficulties maintaining eye contact or a conversation, she consented to a second date," his family said. The two married five years later on Dec. 15, 1956.
During the mid-1950s, Mr. Kauffman was a staff sergeant with the Army 10th Infantry Division in Germany.
After his military service, he graduated in 1961 from Lafayette College with a bachelor's degree in business. He went to work for International Business Machines Corp., but was soon recruited by the start-up Applied Data Research in Princeton.
From the early 1960s until the 1980s, Mr. Kauffman was a key contributor to the company's growth as it competed with IBM to become the nation's first independent software vendor. Applied Data was credited with receiving the first patent issued by the federal government for a computer sorting system in 1968. The firm was sold in 1986, and is now defunct.
While a vice president of research and development at Applied Data, he led teams that developed MetaCOBOL, a pre-compiler that was in service until early 2016, and IDEAL, a fourth-generation programming language that was important in database application language development.
In 1977, Mr. Kauffman authored the textbook High-Level COBOL Programming with other Applied Data managers.
He retired in the early 1990s.
An avid sportsman, Mr. Kauffman had a private pilot's license, and routinely flew from the Trenton airport to the grass landing strip at the family farm in Upper Makefield.
He carried forward to his children and grandchildren the passion he had shared with his father for hunting and fishing. When he was in his late 70s, the family traveled to the Madison and Jefferson Rivers in Montana in search of brown trout.
An excellent skier, Mr. Kauffman served as a member of the Ski Patrol for Shawnee Mountain Ski Area in the Poconos in the 1970s. He last skied at Shawnee just after his 79th birthday.
He attended the Lafayette-Lehigh football game every year, accompanied by six other members of his extended family who had attended one or the other of the rival colleges.
His primary interest in retirement was golf. He was a member of the Hopewell Valley Golf and Country Club, where he continued to score in the 80s after his 80th birthday.
Until a stroke in December 2016, he and his dog, Tilly, volunteered to deliver food to shut-ins for Woodside Meals on Wheels.
Mr. Kauffman was active in the religious community at Pennswood Village, and was previously an active member of Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church in New Hope, where he served as a deacon and member of the session.
"He was irrepressible, and experienced unmitigated joy in play," his son said. "He had a standard of conduct I can only describe as chivalrous, a wide-ranging curiosity, and a love of travel."
Besides his wife and son, Mr. Kauffman is survived by children Laura Jane Szymendera and Craig; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and three sisters.
A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday, Feb. 4, at Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1680 Aquetong Rd., New Hope. Burial will be private.