FAIRBANK — Andy Kaufman was a family man whose enthusiasm for remodeling helped improve the rural Cedar Falls home where he and his wife lived with their five children.
His 9-year-old son, Beckett, was a kind person often found helping other people.
“They were inseparable. Beckett loved his daddy,” Kevin Kaufman, Andy’s father, said in an interview Wednesday at his Fairbank farm.
Kevin and two of his sons, Adam and Derek, talked with The Courier about the 40-year-old father and son who died Friday when a barn on their rural Cedar Falls property collapsed. A funeral service for them will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls. Andy and his wife, Brook, have another son and three daughters. Andy was very involved in coaching a variety of youth sports that Beckett and his siblings have participated in.
“He was an all-around dad, all-around son, all-around brother,” said Kevin. “He loved his wife like no other. ...
“He was everybody’s rock, including mine. I’ve got a lot of good rocks in this family.”
An obituary lists seven siblings and two step-siblings in what Kevin called a “split family” due to divorce. “But we didn’t treat it like that,” he said. “We are a family.”
Adam added, “He loved his life. He was always thankful we had such a big family and were so close to each other.”
He worked for an insurance company in Readlyn and had a gift for sales – starting with cars and then farm implements – but hadn’t entirely left behind the notion of living on a farm. The family was raising a number of animals such as chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits and a tortoise.
“He wanted his kids to have the values we were taught as kids and the work ethic,” said Adam. “And they all did, they all have that.”
The family had lived in Cedar Falls before buying the rural acreage in about 2010.
Kevin noted that, at the time, the house on the property “needed work.” Fortunately, Andy was up to the task. He completed multiple phases of remodeling on the building.
He had taken an interest in renovation work in 2004, when Kevin and his wife, Denise, bought a restaurant in Fairbank. Andy and his brothers helped remodel the building along with a cousin who is a carpenter.
“And Andy, he just took to carpentry and kept doing it,” said Kevin.
Recently, his attention was focused on the barn that had been moved to the property. Installation on a concrete pad was finished last week, on July 15. A day later the structure collapsed while he and Beckett were inside.
“This barn was a dream of his,” said Kevin. “They were going to insulate it and have a place for all the animals in the winter.”
The family lived in the Dike-New Hartford School District, which held a gathering for students and families Sunday.
“One of the kids at the event at Dike called Beckett the bucket-filler,” recalled Adam, noting the student’s explanation that “he was always helping someone. He was a kind kid.”
“Beckett always was trying to help people solve all their problems,” added Kevin.
He and his sons thanked the communities of Dike, Fairbank, Readlyn, New Hartford and Jesup – where Brook is a teacher – for being supportive through the loss of Andy and Beckett.
“The overwhelming outpouring of support,” said Adam, has been appreciated.
“It’s just been amazing,” said Derek.
As of Wednesday, an online Go Fund Me campaign to provide financial support to the family had exceeded $80,000. Adam said the last he heard, people had signed up to bring meals to Brook and the children through the end of August.
“That’s just a testament to how many lives they touched – both Andy and Beckett,” he said.
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa plans to name the field at Kinnick Stadium for Duke Slater, a trailblazing Black player who was an All-American tackle a century ago, two people familiar with the proposal said Wednesday.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the plan to honor Slater hasn’t been announced. A university spokeswoman didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
The Iowa Board of Regents, which governs the university, is set to consider and approve “a proposed facility naming” recommended by the school at a meeting next week. No details about the agenda item have been released.
After leaving Iowa, Slater became the NFL’s first Black lineman and a pioneering Chicago judge, and he will be inducted next month into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Slater died in 1966 at age 67.
Slater went to high school in Clinton, and played for the Hawkeyes from 1918 to 1921. He helped the 1921 Hawkeyes finish 7-0, including a victory over Notre Dame and coach Knute Rockne that ended their 20-game winning streak. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Slater played as a two-way lineman for 10 seasons in the NFL with teams in Rock Island, Milwaukee and Chicago, becoming the longest-tenured African-American player of his era.
Slater earned a law degree from Iowa while playing in the NFL. He later worked as a lawyer in Chicago, and became one of the city’s first Black judges.
The idea of honoring Slater at Iowa’s stadium first surfaced more than 50 years ago.
In the 1970s, University of Iowa President Willard “Sandy” Boyd proposed naming the Hawkeyes’ stadium Kinnick-Slater, in part to honor of 1939 Heisman Trophy trophy winner Nile Kinnick.
Boyd’s idea faced pushback from some fans and a committee who opposed having a joint name. As a compromise, the university named the stadium for the late Kinnick, and a residence hall for Slater.
Slater Residence Hall, which has housed generations of Iowa students, was the first building on Iowa’s campus named for an African-American but few students have knowledge of its namesake. As a Black student, Slater himself would not have been able to live in a campus dormitory under practices in place at the time.
The university in 2019 added a bronze sculpture to commemorate Slater and the 1921 team outside Kinnick Stadium.
After protests for racial justice erupted across the nation and on campus in 2020, some supporters renewed their push to put Slater’s name on the stadium. They argued that the 1970s compromise snubbed one of Iowa’s greatest Black athletes and scholars.
“Changing the stadium’s name can’t change the past. However, it can make a statement about our identity as a university, community and fans going forward,” university alumnus Cole Grolmus wrote in an op-ed piece last June.
Last year’s protests also prompted several former Black players to call out the racial insensitivity they faced while playing under Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who apologized and made several changes, including allowing kneeling during the national anthem.
An investigation by an outside law firm hired by Iowa found the program’s rules “perpetuated racial and culture biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity” and allowed coaches to demean players without consequence.
A group of former Black players is suing the program and two top Ferentz assistants, including his son and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, for discrimination. Some rival schools are believed to be using the allegations against Iowa in recruiting battles.
Among Power Five conferences, there is only one football stadium that carries the name of a Black player — Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium.
Students in Wichita, Kansas, public schools can ditch the masks when classes begin. Detroit public schools will probably require them unless everyone in a room is vaccinated. In Pittsburgh, masks will likely be required regardless of vaccination status. In some states, including Iowa, schools cannot mandate face coverings under any circumstances.
With COVID-19 cases soaring nationwide, school districts across the U.S. are yet again confronting the realities of a polarized country and the lingering pandemic as they navigate mask requirements, vaccine rules and social distancing requirements for the fast-approaching new school year.
The spread of the delta variant and the deep political divisions over the outbreak have complicated decisions in districts from coast to coast. In some conservative states, lawmakers banned districts from requiring masks despite outcry from medical professionals. Schools are weighing a variety of plans to manage junior high and middle school classrooms filled with both vaccinated and unvaccinated students.
“I’m so frustrated that it’s become a political issue because it shouldn’t be. It’s science,” said Mary Tuttle, who operates an Indianapolis in-home day care center and hopes the city’s schools require masks for her daughters.
She worries that the delta variant could lead to a return to virtual learning, which caused her 10-year-old daughter to become depressed and anxious last year. Another daughter will turn 12 six days after starting 6th grade and will be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Adding to the concerns is a rise in cases overall — sharply in some states, including Arkansas, which won’t let schools require masks. Public health researchers on Tuesday called Arkansas’ rapidly climbing infections and hospitalizations a “raging forest fire,” and the state’s top health official warned of significant future outbreaks in schools.
Arkansas leads the country in new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers, and it has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with only 35% of the population fully vaccinated.
In Mississippi, the leading health official said Tuesday that intensive care units are full in 13 hospitals because of a surge in cases, and he provided an ominous warning in one of the least vaccinated states in the country: “Y’all, we’re going to have a rough few weeks,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.
Weekly tallies by the American Academy of Pediatrics based on state reports show that COVID-19 cases in kids increased nationally in July after a couple of months of declines. The most recent data shows a 1% increase from July 1 to July 15, representing 43,000 additional cases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday recommended universal masking in schools, even for those who are vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month recommended mask-wearing indoors for students and staff who are not fully vaccinated.
The vaccine is not yet approved for children under 12. If it is shown to be safe and effective for younger ages, vaccine manufacturers could seek emergency authorization this fall or winter.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the fact that some states refuse to allow mask requirements “is just plain wrong.” She said the organization has embraced recommendations from the CDC.
But school officials say masking decisions have been complicated by conflicting advice from public health officials. School districts that can set their own policies are taking different approaches.
In Detroit public schools, everyone will likely be required to wear a mask unless an entire room is vaccinated. Officials are developing an identification system, perhaps by wearing lanyards, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.
In Pittsburgh, administrators are proposing that all public school students and staff be required to wear masks indoors to protect younger students and because of “concerns around unknowns from the variant,” spokeswoman Ebony R. Pugh said. Universal masking also protects the privacy of older students who have not been vaccinated, she said.
In Kansas, most schoolchildren and teachers will not be required to wear masks. The state’s largest district, Wichita, made masks optional starting July 6 and surveyed parents before announcing its reopening plan, said Wichita Public Schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman.
“A lot of them, their big talking points were about the emotional well-being of students and staff,” Arensman said. “They still wanted kids to be safe, but they also wanted kids to be back to normal.”