Glenn Kaufmann will serve as grand marshal of this year’s Fourth of July parade in downtown Chanhassen.
The parade, at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in downtown Chanhassen, is the centerpiece of the city’s big Fourth of July activities and attracts thousands of spectators every year.
The Rotary Club of Chanhassen recently selected Kaufmann as its 2019 Distinguished Service Award recipient, who is also honored as the grand marshal of the Fourth of July Parade, organized by the club. Recipients are recognized for volunteerism that makes Chanhassen a better place to live.
On June 24, Rotary Club President Ann Voas introduced Kaufmann to the Chanhassen City Council as the Distinguished Service winner.
Past recipients include Al Klinglhutz, Bob Meuwissen, Ladd Conrad, Cy and Madonna Kerber, Curt Robinson, Terry Kemble, Mark Undestad, Tim and Ginger Mulcrone , Vernelle Clayton, Tom Furlong, Michael Brindisi, Barbara Nevin and Bob and Cheryl Ayotte.
Influencers across the community are invited to suggest candidates who exemplify “the passion of serving others and making a difference in the quality of life here. Many of these volunteers really stand out. They go above and beyond what is expected of a good neighbor. They set the bar high and become models for so many others,” according to the Rotary Club.
Maybe it’s his military background, maybe it’s being the oldest of 10 children.
Whatever the reason, if you’re having a meeting with Kaufmann, you can count on the fact that he’ll be punctual, said Jill Sinclair, Chanhassen environmental resources specialist. She got to know Kaufmann when he served on the Chanhassen Environmental Commission.
“He has a great sense of humor; he’s kind to everyone; he’s open to new ideas; he’s creative; and he’s always, always on time,” Sinclair said. “Better than on time — he’s early. He likes to say, ‘If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late.’”
“The very first time I met Glenn, I have to admit I was taken aback by his humorous brashness and willingness to jump into things,” Sinclair said. “People are usually a little shy at their first commission meetings, but not Glenn. It honestly surprised me and I quickly learned that his style was a huge asset to the commission since it puts everyone at ease and encouraged everyone to be engaged and say what they think.
“That’s one of his best qualities — the ability to be there 110% and bring everyone with him to that point.”
No matter the project, Kaufmann was always ready to volunteer, Sinclair added, “like planting trees, working at the July 4th celebration, or clearing buckthorn. He was a commissioner you could count on. I think service is in his bones. And he does it with grace, humility and dedication. He makes a difference in the world whenever he can, and our little corner is a better place thanks to his endeavors.”
Kaufmann grew up in Gaylord, Minnesota, then joined the U.S. Air Force — “I thought I wanted to be a pilot,” he said, but plans changed quickly.” Instead, he served for 20 years in aircraft maintenance, retiring as a captain. His service took him all over the world, from South California, Okinawa, Japan, the Azores, Hawaii, North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and again to Hawaii. Ask him his favorite location — naturally, Hawaii, “especially the first time when I was young and had less responsibilities.”
The Azores in Portugal sounded like an adventure. Was it?
Kaufmann laughed, “It’s an island 800 miles off the coast. It’s almost a third world country. Back in the ‘90s, they still were using donkeys to deliver milk. So yes, it was interesting.”
After living all over the world, he chose Chanhassen, “because I wanted to live in Carver County. It’s close to the Twin Cities and not too far from my hometown which is 45-50 minutes away. I like the Twin Cities and all it has to offer.”
He also chose the Chanhassen Lions Club.
His reasoning — he was new to town and wanted to get involved with the community and he saw it was a way to give back to his new home. And he was also emulating the way his parents served their community.
“My parents — Gary and Sherri — got a similar award in Gaylord about eight years ago, a community volunteer award,” Kaufmann said.
Looking back at his childhood and family life, there was a lot of service that included the Boy Scouts, being an altar boy at church. His parents took in foster children, in addition to raising their own brood of nine. When they adopted a foster child, the total came to 10. Growing up in a family of 10 siblings wasn’t really that big a deal, Kaufmann said, since there was a 20-year age difference between the oldest and the youngest. But he did concede that there was occasional chaos.
Kaufmann just turned 50 and about to celebrate his fourth wedding anniversary. He is employed as a contract administrator for a defense contract management agency in the Twin Cities. His team inspects bombs and bullets.
Although he works full time, he has carved out time to be a mentor in the Carver County Veterans Court, usher at St. Hubert Catholic Church, participate in city government as a member of the environmental commission. And take a leadership role in the Lions Club, both locally and on a district and regional level.
“What I like about (the Lions Club) purpose is that we are able to reach and touch all different parts of the community. We have the vision project, we pick up trash, we volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, and we’re starting a project around pediatric cancer. As a local club and through Lions International, we offer our hands to all different kinds of people.”
Kaufmann is an active member of the Chanhassen Lions Club where he’s a popular volunteer in its Christmas tree lot and raconteur in the warming trailer.
“He fits right in with the crusty old Lions guys,” said Dave Hess, Lions Club secretary. “He’s one of the ringleaders and he’s in his element. He’s full of jokes, but he’s also a hard worker and does a lot of the heavy lifting.”
What Kaufmann didn’t mention but Hess was more than happy to talk about is Kaufmann’s advancement in the Lions organization.
“Glenn is all about service, which is what the award is about,” Hess said. “He served his country, and now with the Veterans Court. He joined the Lions looking for a service club. He joined seven years ago and quickly shot up as a member of the board, then took on the presidency for two years when the upcoming president was unable to take office, making him a two-term president.
“Since then, he’s gotten into Lions at a regional level. Currently he is zone chairperson and oversees 8-10 clubs. As July 1, he’ll be 2nd vice district governor for 5M2 (65 clubs in south central Minnesota).
“So he’s knee-deep in Lions. He’s really taken on a responsibility there. I’ve seen him from a new member to a 2nd vice district governor. His wife Lisa (Kaufmann) is also a Lion and she’s taken right off too, as a board member. They’re quite the Lions team. They’re a great example of what a husband and wife can do.”