In Memory of



Obituary for Dr. Joseph Kaufert

Born: February 10, 1943 - Date of passing: October 2, 2023

With great sadness the family announces the death of Dr. Joseph (Joe) Kaufert of Winnipeg, on October 2, 2023. Joe leaves an enormous legacy of community and academic contributions, of profound friendships and warm hospitality, and of magic, and meaningful stories.

Joe was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on February 10th, 1943, to Frank and Ione Kaufert, and grew up in an extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins.

He developed lifelong interests in public health (from his mother), forestry (from his father), nature, dogs, magic, music, and a humanistic and caring approach to life.

He completed his B.A. in Minneapolis in 1966 and went on to do his master’s and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University, completing his M.A. in 1968 and Ph.D. in 1973. He spent time in Berlin and Germany as a graduate student in the 1960s, in part exploring his father’s family history.

Joe met Patricia and her young daughter Helen in 1968 at the University of Ghana, in Legon, where Joe was a lecturer in political science, and Pat and Helen had come from Birmingham, England, for Pat’s doctoral research. The match was made, and once the bride price was paid, they were married in a traditional Ewe ceremony. They reconfirmed their vows in 1970 with Joe's family in Minnesota. All three went to Tacoma, Washington and San Antonio, Texas, where Joe did medical service during the Vietnam War.

The family returned to England in 1973, where Patricia and Joe were post-doctoral fellows at the Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham. From 1974-1976 Joe was a Senior Lecturer and Social Science Chair in the Department of Community Medicine at St Thomas' Hospital Medical School, University of London.

Joe, Pat and Helen moved to Winnipeg in 1976 to participate in the development of the new Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Manitoba, where Joe was appointed as Associate Professor and Pat as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. He attained the rank of Professor in 1985.

As a social scientist in Community Health Sciences, his work was in the fields of medical anthropology, public and population health, Indigenous health, disability studies, intercultural health communication and biomedical and research ethics. In the field of ethics, he contributed to research and Canadian policy development on ethical issues including informed consent, organ donation, and end of life care for Indigenous communities and people living with disabilities.

Much of Joe’s academic work was done in partnership with Pat, including developing and co-directing the postgraduate programs in Community Health Sciences, and expanding social science dimensions of the undergraduate medical curriculum.

He made huge contributions as a volunteer and researcher to the work of many community and advocacy organizations in the fields of Indigenous health, mental health, disabilities and food security.
Following retirement, he was appointed Professor Emeritus. He dedicated the past several years to issues of food security in medical education, the connections among public health, pandemics and disability, and to spending much quality time with friends.

After Pat’s death in 2019, he carried on the family tradition of warm hospitality, channeling Pat’s culinary enthusiasms. He was proud to have seen the inauguration of the annual Pat Kaufert Lecture in Community Health Sciences in 2020.

Joe and Pat made frequent visits to England, in part to visit Pat’s family and their old friends, and more recently to visit with Helen, who located to London. He was able to revisit Berlin in 2013 with friends, and relived many good times from student days. With Helen he visited cousins in central France and most recently visited Northern Ireland.

His knowledge base was diverse - everything from language, culture, medicine, music, cooking, and of course magic. His stories were inspired by conversations and his lifetime of rich experiences, and were always told with meaning, linking many things.

Joe was a passionate magician from age 7 or 8. He was a long-time member of The Magic Circle, International Brotherhood of Magicians (Order of Merlin), and the Magic Club of Winnipeg. He would delight and bemuse with sleight of hand, and a big wink, at every opportunity. His magic was often done at kids’ and community events; the magician’s patter often a witty reflection on a current social justice issue tailored just for the audience.

Joe will be missed by his daughter Helen, many cousins in Minnesota and friends and colleagues located far and wide, from Winnipeg, to Northern Manitoba, across Canada, England, USA, Europe, and Africa. His connections were profound, caring, mutual and enduring.

Special thanks to Kris Robinson and Alex Raymundo for their friendship and compassionate care.

A memorial celebration will be held on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at 2:00 PM at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, 603 Wellington Crescent.

In lieu of flowers, a donation in Joseph’s name to Manitoba Harvest would be appreciated. Donations online can be made to
or by phone +1 (204) 982-3663.